The sun is getting stronger, the leaves are unfurling, and the crocuses are up and blooming. It's time to get out in the garden and cross a few things off the "to do" list. So, grab your gloves, sunblock, and water bottle and head outside!

Take an Inventory: Do any tools need to be replaced? Do you need an new garden hose, drip hose, or garden cart? How is your supply of rose fertilizer, potting soil, and plant stakes?

Clean-up: Pick up any twigs or branches, cut back ornamental grasses, sedum heads, and sage. Keep the mulch around your plants until the end of April, when the ground temperature is above 50 degrees for several nights. Clean tools and tune-up the lawn mower.

Prune: Damaged branches and limbs can be pruned now. If you haven't already done so, prune fruit trees.

Fertilize: Now's a great time to add compost to the vegetable garden. Spread the compost over the leaves that you added in the fall.

Create a Bed: Build a raised bed for vegetables or herbs. Remember that vegetables need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Woody herbs can tolerate a lot of sun. Herbs, like basil, do better in part sun, with more afternoon shade.

Plant Cool Season Crops: Spinach, kale, lettuce, beets, fennel, and potatoes can be planted mid to late April.

Plant a Spring Container: Use pansies with a hellebore to create a welcoming container for your entryway. The hellebore can later be transplanted to your perennial garden.

Plant a Tree: Early spring is the perfect time to plant a bare root tree. Make sure that the ground is not too wet and that you have the hole dug before you bring home the tree.

Breathe Deeply: One of the joys of gardening is to finally get outdoors and play in the dirt! Bring a friend or child with you and the joy is doubled.

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