A GROWING CONCERN: It’s the right time to make time for projects

I MUST FIRST start by giving a huge Botanical shout out to Anne and Steve at Lazy J Tree Farm, who very generously donated 22 various sizes of Christmas trees to the Winter Ice Village.

Next to the ice rink they will create the “forest of light.”

Lazy J Tree Farm, in keeping with their great holiday tradition of selling wreaths, trees, swags and organic fruit products for the holidays, has stepped up as the sponsor of the “forest of light.” Thank you.

And thank you to the over 60 individuals that donated their time in hanging what will be a 112,400 light sculpture display. Again — thank you all.

But with winter fast approaching and the midpoint of autumn over, now comes the best time of year for big projects.

I am always amazed at this point in the calendar how garden centers, nurseries, even landscapers move to winter hours, reducing staff, inventory and hours of operation.

Planting trees, digging drainage, making berms, constructing rock walls, designing new walkways or driveway extensions- anything that involves an excavator, a dump truck or a tractor, along with massive amounts of soil or mulch — the next four months is the time.

And why, might you ask?

The wetter the better

To begin with, the weather. It is going to rain for months on end and inches upon inches in quantity.

The rain will do several beneficial tasks for you.

It will settle in all new construction and water in all new plantings.

Anytime you move, pile, dig or shape soil, it needs to settle in, and that generally requires copious amounts of water.

The next big item in doing large-scale landscape jobs now is the timing.

First, you have the time.

The grass will soon be growing extremely slowly with little or no mowing.

Go all out

Second, your flowers and gardens (veggies and orchards too) are all but done for the year with just a little weeding, deadheading, cultivating, pruning, fertilizing or moving those hoses and sprinklers.

The timing is perfect for contractors, equipment operators and suppliers because they also have the time now.

Come spring and early summer, everybody will be busy and few will even take the time to call you back.

Right now, deals can be had, or they will respond with “How about if I drop by tomorrow?”

Finally, the timing is perfect because by next summer everything you’ve done now will look marvelous.

Part of the trick is that by doing disruptive projects now you can, at projects end, spread topsoil and grass seed and then in six months, your lawn will look better than ever.

The dirt and grime will be washed away, the rocks will shine and the plants will be growing because their roots had time to move into the surrounding soil, getting nice and established before the warmer weather dries up their liquid nourishment.

I also like that winter and fall here are extremely mild.

It is really nice not to be sweating when working so hard, and our weather for the next several months is ideal for strenuous work.

With strong backs, on days like these, I can count on the brief duration of daylight to automatically reduce my hours and fatigue.

So how about a list of jobs that are ideal to perform in the next few weeks?

1. Drainage problems. Put in drain pipe, fabric, pea gravel and skirting drains, dig ditches, and contour the yard.

2. Rock walls and retaining walls. In order to last, they need the soil to settle in around them, and the rains will do that for you. Check with your local official to see if a permit is required.

3. Plant large items. These beasts will be watered in and the weather won’t stress them out.

4. Ponds and water features. These jobs disturb a lot of soil, so get them done and watch how Mother Nature cleans up the mess behind you.

5. Create berms. Making natural looking mounds means you will be moving dirt. This will cause ruts in the yard. You will have ample time for repairs during this period.

6. Your lawn. De-thatch, aerate, sow anew and enjoy the best year ever come next year.

7. Construct new gardens. Doing this now will have them ready next year when the soil starts to warm and you’re ready to plant veggie seeds.

8. Driveways, pathways and patios. It’s easy to get a contractor and you can have them in place for when the weather for shorts and flip-flops arrives.

Don’t let the winter blues get the best of you.

Chase away that cabin fever. Now is the time to tackle big jobs.

And to light up your spirits, get out of your cabin and come on down to the Winter Ice Village.

It will be open Friday through Monday Jan. 20, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

________

Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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