2023 Yard And Garden To-Do List

This is the way.  My 2023 yard and garden to-do list is the way that I set-up some guardrails on my activies in the garden this year.  This is something that I've done over the years - starting in 2019Here is 2022's version - which included 25 items.  That (25 items) is where I've seemed to settle the past few years.   Earlier this year, I started to collect my thoughts and published a 'potential projects' post in late January that unpacked some priorities that I could work through this year.  

Without further preamble, let's turn to the 2023 to-do list.

1. Evergreens. Like last year, where I listed 'shrubs' as my #1 item, this year, I want to think about having a focus on evergreens. That means...trees and shrubs. For now, that means adding boxwoods under the Lindens, thinking about more upright evergreens in other places in the back and using them to create some Winter structure in the beds.  And, adding dwarf varieties (staggered) to the front porch bed (See #3 below).

2. IB2DWs Extended with clustered evergreens, layered with grasses and annuals.  Kind of a sub-part of #1 above, but a separate area - creating a bigger bed IB2DWs.  

3.  Plan, plant and improve the front porch bed.  First...Plan means to lay out the second row of boxwoods.  Second....improve...that means improve the clay (vertical mulching).  Plant means add Disneyland Roses, replace the Hydrangea, layer with grasses.  And add annuals around the Elm.

4.  Get (more) serious with vegetables.  Likely through the creation/construction of a hydroponic tower for the back patio.  

5.  Install a second yard hydrant.  This one closer to the house for a hose that can be used on the patio and beyond.  Bury the post, hand the hydrant.  

6.  Become a gardener who weeds.  Now that I have a push/pull hoe, I want to go from weeding when I think of it to weeding-as-a-gardener this year.   Garden walks with a hoe are just as easy as ones without. 

7.  Keep working the lawn.  That means following my 2023 plan.  Topdressing with biosolids on the parkway and in some hard-to-grow areas.  Spot-treat Nimblewill and other weeds.  Trying to aerate this Fall.  Overseed in the Fall, too.  

8.  Add a water feature and more landscape lighting.  The Disney-inspired fountain idea is an easy way to do it.  I'd like to add more 'uplights' to the backyard on the southside and far back as well as finish up the Disney Tinkerbell twinkle lights that are like the ones on MainStreet USA trees.  

9.  Work the Espalier'd trees.  Take down the metal posts on the Lindens.  Fill in the Belgian Fence.  Plant something that works in the shade along the garage.  Add supports to Crabapples.  Keep and eye-on the pleach-able London Planetrees.  

10.  Fern Upgrade.  I've been pretty clear of the years that I'm a shade, foliage gardener and that means that I'm partial to ferns.  They're - broadly speaking - my favorite plant group.  My love started with Ostrich Ferns.  But, I've recently learned to love other ferns.  And find faults with Ostrich Ferns as they peter-out well before other ferns like Painted Ferns, Tassel Ferns and Autumn Ferns.  I want to identify and transplant ALL of my Ostrich Ferns from their beds to the far-back location (behind the Hicks Yews hedge) to naturalize in the far back.  When I buy ferns, I'll be adding ferns that look good all Summer long in 2023.  

11.  Continue on our composting journey.  That starts with using our kitchen bin, turning the mixed bin, amending with alfalfa and/or biosolids.  It also means that I need to keep moving through the two bins and tumbler set-up with the goal of a tumbler-full-of-finished compost to be used in the garden every season.  Fall leaves stored in Fall, full, properly mixed bin by end-of-season.

12.  Improve My Container Game.  Fill out my corner box in the pattern from Paris (again).  Add at least one large(r) format container for the patio.  Using tropicals, adding something massive like a Banana or Thai Giant.  

13.  Fix/upgrade back Stoop.  Maybe it is a pair of Japanese Maples?  Maybe it is a combination of things.  Either way....the rhododendrons aren't working.  Change that.  Also, divide the volunteer sedum as it seems like it is adapting to Zone 5b.  

14.  Pick a project:  Boardwalk or Orangerie Box.  Just do it.  It will make the backyard more accessible or more interesting for everyone.  The boardwalk is a decision between floating and below frost-line.  The Orangerie box is a matter of finding a plan that's 'close-enough' and improvising.  

15.  Upgrade firepit area.   Permanent lighting.  Or, more screening.  A climbing hydrangea and/or a couple of Oakleaf varieties.  Or a moongate.  Same as #14.  Just do it.  Also, see #19 below where I mention the permanent fairy garden installation back here.  A nice touch would be to go get a few loads of bluestone chips to topdress the pit and path.

16.  Continue and expand seasonal projects.  Feeding and treating - roses and trees.  Collecting and germinating - tree seeds.  Protect from pests with wire and the cold.   Divide everything you can in the Fall.   Prune shrubs in late Winter.  Shape boxwoods.  

17.  Keep going on groundcover.  Last year, I added +20 plants that fall into the 'groundcover' category including these Ajuga.  Do the same this year.  Why?  To reduce the amount of mulch that we need to install every year by just a little bit.  Epimedium.  Pulmonaria.  Sedges.  MOAR.  Also, divide the sedum by the stoop and think real hard about the Creeping Jenny.

18.  Deal with the 'kitchen curved' border.  This spot is very visible.  But, has been neglected.  Sort-of.  There are peonies and (now) anemones.  But, no structure.  Correct that with a mix of evergreens and annuals.  

19.  Staghorns Take Work.  So do topiaries.  And fairy gardens. Don't let those three projects wither.  Add more, too.   Make the fairy garden a little more permanent.  And visible from the firepit. 

20.  Finish processing the firewood.  There's a lot of splitting and stacking left to do.  Get it done by Fall - that way we can use the Maple that has been split this Winter during the 2023/2024 burning season and have more ready for the next.  

21.  Plant trees.  But, think about another large caliper one.  Or...more interesting ones from Morton sale.  Don't get lured by the orange big box store varieties.  Unless they're for espalier or a deal you can't resist.  

22.  Take another look at bonsai.  Start with the juniper on the patio.  But, do another one, too.  Boxwood seems right.  Things that can overwinter outside.  Maybe on top of firewood racks. 

23.  Stain the patio container.  This is the year, he says.  

24.  Try to get cuttings to root.  Can you say 'backyard nursery'?  Start with hydrangeas.  Plant the collected tree seeds.  Upgrade the seedlings (if they survive).  

25.  Use annuals beyond the container.  I've long talked about using annuals in the landscape, but have never planted one in the backyard.  Mostly...because...I've invested elsewhere.  Try both sun and shade annuals (begonias + polka dot).  And, fill the feet of the Triumph Elm in front. 


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