Marianne Binetti

Resolutions for successful gardening in 2016

Winter is when every landscape and garden holds the promise of a perfect growing season. This January, resolve to add these monthly reminders to your calendar — you’ll enjoy less work and more beauty if your resolutions for 2016 are to do at least one nice thing for your garden each month.


Save these tips. Order seeds, especially heirloom seeds if you want to grow varieties that you won’t find at local nurseries. Tip: Even if you don’t end up planting all the seeds you buy, you’ll still be helping out a business that is trying to save our supply of heirloom seeds.


Cut back the brown tops of ornamental grasses this month. Prune your roses. And resolve to attend the Northwest Flower & Garden Show that runs Feb. 17-21 in Seattle. You can order tickets online at

My talk this year at the show will be on “Weed Wars — How to Win the Battle Without Harming Mother Nature” (Saturday, Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m.).


Invest some time in weed control now for big dividends later. Divide daylilies, feed the lawn, sharpen the blades and tune up your mower.


Plant cool-season crops such as peas, lettuce, kale and cabbage. Add spring bloomers such as primroses, pansies and alyssum. Add organic matter to enrich all soils now, so you’ll need less water this summer.


Plant something new and in bloom for our pollinators. New David Austin roses are out this year. Add a new perennial plant that you’ve never tried. A variety of flowering plants in the landscape will keep the birds and bees humming along. Accept that it is up to gardeners to save the world.


Feed the soil and seal in moisture with a mulch. Cut back any early flowering clematis after they bloom for an encore of flowers later in the summer. Plant tomatoes, beans, corn and other warmth loving crops this month.


Invest in a rain barrel, drip irrigation or soaker hose. Cut back perennials such as lavender and delphiniums and they will flower again. Fertilize your potted plants. Cut back leggy petunias, dead-head geraniums.


Harvest beans, broccoli and leafy crops to keep your vegetables producing. Water less often but water deeply.


Have no mercy on ugly plants. Replace dried-up and overgrown shrubs, trees, perennials and annuals with better-behaved versions on sale at nurseries this month. Fertilize lawns in late September. Reseed new lawns in early September.


Move tender potted plants close to the house, bring tender succulents such as Echiverias indoors. Cut back frost-damaged plants and collect fallen leaves. Make this the month you start a compost pile by piling leaves and debris in a corner of the garden.


Plant spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips and daffodils. Dig or cover tender bulbs of dahlias, cannas and tuberous begonias. Use up the gas and drain the oil from your mower before winter storage. Give thanks that you live in such a beautiful, green place.


Harvest your evergreens and berried branches to decorate from nature this month. Fill planters, window boxes and hanging baskets with the pruning crumbs from your evergreens and make jolly with holly.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at