Just in the nick of time, Kevin, Akey, Rutgers Master Gardener, joined us to steer us in the right direction for preparing our gardens. It’s spring and here is what you do first: *clean and sharpen those tools so that they are reliable; *test the soil; *clean-up the winter kill; *clean up dead leaves and debris; *get some help (preferably from someone younger) not only for the heavy lifting but so that you can begin to plant seeds encouraging future gardeners. Why is pruning important to do now? This needs to be done prior to plant leafing, and it’s easier to do now when you can clearly see the branches. This is no time for any emotional connection to the plant; if it’s dead, remove it (the giver of this gift will understand); you need to let go. Prune with proper tools: use pruning sheers, either by-pass scissor sheers for branches or anvil sheers. When using long-handled loppers remember to protect yourself: head covered, gloves on, wear long sleeves, protect your eyes. If using a pruning saw, purchase the folding type as these are very sharp and it’s safer when these are folded and stored away. And using pruning paint or sealers is a thing of the past as these block a plants’ natural healing process and could capture infection in the plant that has no way to depart. What to prune? Dead, diseased branches, branches rubbing together, storm damage, broken branches and to shape and control the size of the plant. Moving on to lawns: get the sprinkler ready, but never, never give your lawn more than 1” of water per week. Why? Lawns need to root deep and if they’re getting too much water on the surface, they’ll get fat and lazy and not dig deep for their nourishment. If you need help knowing when your lawn has received an 1” of water, strategically place tuna fish cans around and when these are filled, you have your 1”. It was a lot of information, and if you need additional advice, ask our in-resident gardener, Roy!