Update your garden journal with your plans for the new gardening year.
Weather permitting, plant pansies, bare root shrubs after soaking for several hours, fruit trees, dogwood, magnolia and other deciduous trees and shrubs.
Perennials can be divided before new growth starts and lawns can be over-seeded if needed.
Boxwood can be planted and transplanted. Boxwood blight is a concern so take care in selecting boxwood to plant. Don't plant other plants around boxwood bases. Boxwood roots are shallow and boxwood need air to circulate underneath the plant.
Remember to order seeds for annuals and vegetables and check catalogs and websites for perennials.
By around mid-March, annual flower seeds can be started.
Pruning and Cleaning Up
By late February to early March, you can prune Buddleia, caryopteris, artesmesia (after buds break), perovskia (to 6 -12 inches) and calicarpa (to 18").
You can do some pruning now for a good reason like removing elongated shoots, removing dead and diseased wood, to encourage fullness on a leggy plant, and to encourage flowering. Remove old canes from raspberries. This is a good time to look carefully at your trees and shrubs to see how healthy they are.
You can prune and shape late spring/early summer bloomers, like althea, pink and red spireas and abelia before growth starts. Hold off on pruning spring flowering trees which are trimmed after they bloom. Don't trim maples and birches which are pruned in August.
Roses can be pruned when forsythia bloom.
You can cut ornamental grasses to 6" and liriope to 3".
Fertilize and Mulch
Pine needles, rotted sawdust, straw, and leaves make great mulch - about 2" to 4" after the ground freezes.
Mulching flowerbeds improves soil texture
This is a good time to turn your compost pile and clean up and weed garden beds.
Clean birdhouses and feeders and let feeders dry completely before refilling.
Remember to clean, repair and sharpen tools.
Update your garden journal, or, if you haven't started a garden journal, start one. Record what and where you will plant. Keep a record of the weather. Take pictures. Sketch out your garden plan. Write down the seeds and bulbs you ordered. Record what you planted once you start planting.
A new unfriendly critter, the "kissing bug, " about the size of a penny and with a needle like mouthpart under a cone shaped head, has been located in Virginia and carries Chagas disease so keep an eye out for the bug but don't touch it or let it in the house. Here's a link to more information onKissing Bug.
Keep your tools clean and clean your tools as you move from plant to plant.
Wear gloves for all of your gardening and yard chores.
Protect your skin from sun, dirt, bugs, and poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac
Beware of Giant Hogweed - It looks like a giant Queen Anne's Lace as it grows. It is highly toxic! Do NOT touch, pull, brush against, or weed-whack this plant. Do NOT handle this plant. Do NOT try to remove this plant yourself. Direct contact with this plant sensitizes the skin to the sun and leaves 3rd degree burns. If you see or suspect Giant Hogweed take digital photos of the leaf, stem, and flower and contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office. (photo Robert Videki, Doronicum Kft.)