Gardening resolutions

(Newport News, Va.) Daily PressJanuary 18, 2013 

For many, the new year means there are pounds to shed, closets to clean and credit cards to pay. Gardeners, however, focus on the promise of another growing season with the chance to enhance a garden or try a new plant.

Here’s what some gardeners resolve to do in 2013. Their goals can play out most anywhere you garden.

Let nature be: Allow dead vegetation in the garden to stand over winter, furnishing habitat for birds, small mammals and overwintering insects because they lay their eggs in the stems of goldenrod and other sturdy plants. In spring, cut the old stems into small segments so they fall to the soil surface, becoming early spring mulch where beneficial insect eggs develop and hatch. – Helen Hamilton, Virginia Native Plant Society

Plant more plants: Although my rain garden slows runoff and water in an easement that flows to a creek and waterways beyond, it tends to fill with leaves and debris, so I will rake it and “plant more plants” ( in and around it to keep pollutants from washing into the Chesapeake Bay and to create a fun and healthy habitat full of native birds, butterflies, insects and grandchildren. – Sara Lewis, Chesapeake Bay Foundation volunteer

Garden smarter: Cover bare spots in my yard quickly – before erosion occurs and washes soil into the storm drain. Do a soil test to determine what nutrients my yard needs; if fertilizer is recommended apply it in fall. Install another rain barrel to keep my water bill down and my plants happy. – Ann Jurczyk, Williamsburg gardener

Garden greener: Mulch in the leaves on my lawn with a mulching mower instead of raking them to add nutrients to my soil. Keep a garden journal so I remember when I did tasks like sowing seeds, cutting back perennials and adding soil amendments. Reduce the size of my lawn, converting it to native plant beds that require less of everything. – Grace Chapman, horticulture director at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va.

Win war on weeds: Get weeds when they are young because youngsters are easier to eliminate using a hoe versus pulling large, well-established adults. Many spring weeds, such as chickweed, are in the garden now as babies. – Lisa Ziegler, The Gardener’s Workshop, an online gardening supply house at

Live greener: Reuse an unwanted ladder into a vertical display of potted plants, old vinyl window blinds or silverware into plant markers or a broken teapot into a beautiful planter. Reduce the amount of grass in the lawn into a beautiful display of native flowers, shrubs and trees. Compost food waste into compost for the garden. – Julia Hillegass of

Use more native plants … Native species evolve to better perform with our changing climate, and they provide food, cover and habitat for native wildlife. – Bruce Peachee, horticulture curator with Virginia Living Museum in Newport News

Plant more veggies ; The children that visited our Children’s Garden in 2012 really enjoyed picking tomatoes, pulling carrots and digging sweet potatoes, which grow so well in the compost we make, so we are going to plant even more this year. – Becky Heath of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.

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