February is named for the Latin word februum, which means purification. This fact seems in line with the sage gardening advice that local landscape designer Beverly Katz of Exterior Designs prescribes for the third month of the year. February usually brings cold temps and that, according to Katz, makes it a good time for simplifying, maintaining, taking stock and planning.
“It may freeze, but it’s important that you don’t let [your garden] get sloppy,” said Katz. “Keep a simple mix that’s easy to maintain. Keep the lawn neat and the garden uncluttered. Less is pretty.”
Katz recommends color year ‘round, but in February that means choosing hardy flowers like pansies (which pair nicely with alyssum) and/or using colorful containers. Because much of your outdoor plants may be dormant, she says February is also well-suited to assessing what needs to be done and starting a plan.
“February is time to check things like drainage and hard surfaces,” advised Katz. “Redoing those things can be messy. Get it out of the way so your space is ready for the spring.”
She suggests incorporating art, which adds interest, expresses your personality and provides a focal point, and furniture, which has become even more necessary as people are at home more due to COVID.
“Plants aren’t everything,” she said. “Think about a statue, a piece of sculpture, or a what kind of furniture you want. Do you want a rocking chair or something vintage or artsy?”
On pleasant February days, Katz suggests visiting a nursery for inspiration. She also says an endless array of colorful containers can be found online. And while she notes that many people like to plant and tend small container vegetable gardens on their own, she says there is no substitute for the benefits of hiring a professional for an overall base plan. Paying a professional for a plan can help eliminate problems that cause unexpected expenses and delays. Base plans can also be carried out in phases.
Katz says she sees an increase in people investing in their outdoor spaces.
“Landscapers and outdoor contractors have more work now because we are staying home more and noticing things that need improving,” she said. “There’s no time like the present to start your plan. It’s the least expensive but most important.”
Plant in pots that can be moved if there is a freeze.
Think outside the box when visiting a nursery. They may have something that you hadn’t considered.
The planning to execution stages may take months due to demand for outdoor improvements these days, so don’t waste time getting started.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
As a longtime New Orleanian with experience as an interior decorator, licensed landscape contractor and horticulturist, Beverly Katz understands New Orleans and its climate, as well as the relationship between the interior and exterior spaces of one’s home. For 30 years, she has beautified and improved the function of outdoor areas across Greater New Orleans.