Spring. The time of year when thoughts turn to gardening – all of which are probably not pleasant.

You may remember mowing by flashlight, forgetting to water new plants after a late workday, even procrastinating about a spring cleanup until the task becomes laborious.

And after a weekend in the garden, do you have nagging body aches and a sore back?

If you feel you’re juggling all you can, and the yard is getting the best of you, take some of these suggestions.

  • If you can budget for professional garden care, do so. Ask for a referral from a neighbor whose yard you admire.
  • Plan before planting. Think months ahead. First, consider planting summer annuals, then think ahead to planting perennials in the Fall and bulbs in the Winter.
  • Pick the right plants for each bedding location.
  • Prepare one bedding area at a time. Till in compost if possible, or consider raising your beds.
  • Fertilize plants and lawns as required by the product you choose. Your first application of the year should have been in March. If you use chemical fertilizers, particularly on your lawn, follow all application instructions to the letter. The risk of burning is virtually nil with slow release natural fertilizers.
  • Amend soil, then wait 10 to 12 days before you plant the amended area.
  • Add compost to your planting beds.
  • Listen to Howard Garrett at 12:45 p.m. weekdays.
  • Select plants native to Texas. They enhance long-term success.
  • Subscriber to magazines – “Fine Gardening” and “Sunset” are two.
  • Consider adding herbs to your garden. You can’t go wrong with oregano and yarrow.
  • Use a mulching mower. Save the old model for collecting clippings or purchase a mower converted to both methods.
  • Read books. To maximize your crop yield from a small vegetable garden, “Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew is a good source.
  • Purchase seeds. Those sown into prepared soil when the weather warms and settles reduce your investment and enable you to experiment inexpensively.
  • Use soaker hoses around pier and beam foundations and in gardens to decrease watering time.
  • Order spring bulbs for November planting now. The best prices are available, and your soil will be ready for the deep planting some bulbs require.
  • Service your equipment before it breaks down on the job.
  • Buy products that ease your labor – such as a shredder-vac.
  • Overseed your winter lawn with Oregon rye. It keeps the lawn green, crowds out weeds, loosens the soil and the clippings help supply a compost pile.
  • Apply mulch around new plants.
  • Grow plants in containers, everything from vegetables to spreading annual flower varieties. Buy your containers at discount suppliers.
  • Marry a gardener – my wife’s suggestion.