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As the last full month of winter, February always reminds me of a houseguest who has officially overstayed his welcome. I'm ready for springtime, and more than ready to get outside in my garden and exercise my atrophying green thumbs.
But over the years I've learned that even in February, in many parts of the country, there are some yard and garden chores you can already get cracking on. Best of all, by getting an early start you can save some serious green - as in cashola - come springtime, when most gardening rookies break out their hedge trimmers for the season.
Consider these money-saving gardening tips to tackle in February:
- Start plants from seeds indoors: Save big money by growing vegetables and flowers from seeds rather than buying them as seedlings in the spring. In general, you want to start the seeds indoors, approximately 6-8 weeks before the date of the expected last frost in your area. Find more info on starting plants from seeds here.
- Get garden equipment and tools in shape: Bring your lawnmower and other garden equipment in for repairs and tune-ups now, before repair shops are overwhelmed by the spring rush. You may even be able to get a discount on repairs just by asking nicely, since this is traditionally a slow period for this service industry.
- Stock up on rock salt for summer weed control: I always keep my eyes open at the end of snowy season, when many retailers sell their remaining supplies of rock salt for next to nothing. I use it in the spring and summer to control weeds on gravel and mulch-covered garden paths and other selected outdoor areas. That's just one money-saving alternative to traditional chemical-based herbicides that I discuss in this article.
- Contract for outdoor building projects now: If you're planning to add an outdoor deck or patio, or maybe install a fence or retaining wall, this could be the month to get a bargain price from your local contractor. For so-called "hardscape" projects like these, it may be sufficiently warm to have the work done now, before contractors get overwhelmed with work in the spring and their prices often increase. Also, this is a good time of year to prune many types of trees or have unwanted trees removed.
- Don't throw that away! From worn-out pantyhose and little slivers of soap, to eggshells and coffee grounds, there are all kinds of would-be throw-away items you can stockpile now to repurpose in the yard and garden this summer. Here's how.
And be sure to take a moment in February to simply appreciate the solitude and beauty of nature in winter. It's free, and like that stale houseguest, eventually you may kind of miss it once it's gone.
Photo by Ennor via Flickr Creative Commons.