Pre-Season Checklist

Even while you may still see snow on the ground or feel the chill of winter in the air, you can be working on your garden from the comfort of your favorite chair by the fire. Picturing, planning and preparing make me feel productive even when I’m not actually in the garden. Here are some things I do indoors so I am prepared when the weather allows me to work outdoors.


Now is a great time to imagine what you’d like to do in your gardens and landscapes this year.

garden-checklistshutterstock_12662668Dream – All year long I peruse pictures of flowers and gardens that appeal to me online, in magazines and catalogues. Now I look seriously at the ideas I’ve collected in a notebook, and draw out on paper what I’d like to grow this year. I literally sketch out every garden as well as my lawn. If I’ve already drawn up plans, I now review them.

garden-checklistShop – I make lists of what I want to buy and then find the best places to purchase them. Sometimes this is from a catalogue, sometimes it’s trading out with a friend, and other resources include local nurseries or coop extension offices. My list also includes tools I want to add to my repertoire. is a great resource for tools. Loosening the soil, turning it to give it some air and moisture will also be one of the first outdoor tasks, so you’ll want to make sure you have a long-handled, tined cultivator like Garden Weasel! One of the first things I do when the weather allows is prep my soil with compost. Cotton boll compost and worm castings are at the top of my shopping list.

Shopping starts now so I can spread out my budget over several months.


garden-checklistDo the Math – I measure the dimensions of different areas of my garden and lawn so that I can easily and accurately calculate whatever I will need to purchase—seed, compost, fertilizer, etc. I take this with me when I go shopping, and have it handy, so that I can do the math based on the instructions on packages. Some of the math calculations can be done before I leave the house.

garden-checklistshutterstock_17634520Research and Document– Now is also a great time to research the climate and weather to see what experts say about what will grow well in my area. Pruning and removing protection from plants at the wrong time can be problematic.

I also research topics I want to learn more about, like studying soil amendments to create the ideal growing environment, learning more about organic fertilizers, or discovering tips about how to nurture a certain type of flower I’ve always wanted to grow.

Keeping a gardening journal is so helpful. Marking the date and weather conditions of gardening tasks each year helps you manage the chores in the future.

Another research project to do now is check your soil. Buy a pH kit yourself or take a soil sample to your local extension.

I also double check my catalog order shipping dates from previously –placed orders so that I know when they are scheduled to arrive and I can be prepared.


garden-checklistshutterstock_48700084Sharpen and Clean. If I didn’t do this at the end of the season, I do it now. Checking for rust and removing it, doing an inventory to see if anything needs to be replaced, and making repairs are all great indoor garden tasks. This includes making sure my pruning shears are sharp since that chore is just around the corner.

I don’t know about you, but I feel encouraged at this point to know that much of the invisible work being done in winter is actually productive. Did you know that the melting snow actually delivers not just moisture to the soil but also nitrogen? Though we may not see everything that’s going on in nature to prepare our gardens, we can contribute ourselves by checking off the things on our list that we can do now to help, too.

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