Dear Master Gardener: I have some vines growing on the side of my house. I really like them but they are out of control. They need to be pruned. Can I prune them now?

Dear Over Anxious: I don’t remember this in the Master Gardener manual, but I think it is a little too early. Yellow jessamine (which is our state flower), wisteria, Confederate jasmine, forsythia, irises and azaleas all bloom in the spring. If you prune them back now, likely you would cut the blooms off just before time to enjoy their spring show. I suggest you be a little patient. Wait until these plants bloom, then whack away.

Pruning won’t hurt the plant after they bloom, but why take a chance on losing the one time of year they want to show off? Also, don’t be tempted to fertilize these plants at this time. If you do, they will produce foliage instead of blooms. However, it is getting close to Valentine’s Day and that is the perfect time to prune your roses. Oil your clippers and be ready.

Dear Master Gardener: My husband and I are restoring a small cottage and the yard is a blank slate. Do you have any suggestions where I might start my landscaping?

Dear Excited: What a wonderful opportunity! This is a perfect time of year to plant. Before planting anything in the ground, make a plan on paper. It is a lot easier to move plants around with a pencil than a shovel.

Have someone come in and grade the yard and prepare the soil before planting. Decide where you want your walkways, flowerbeds and grass. Raised beds are beautiful and easy to care for. A few vegetables will be nice. Plan to have a little color all year-round.

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Now is the time to decide where you want cars to drive and park. Be sure you have water in the yard because summer heat is inevitable.

Do you know where the septic tank is located? Do you know where the plumbing lines and electrical wires are? All of that is also important.

Now that you have spent hours thinking, planning, putting your ideas on paper and staying awake at night dreaming about how this cottage is going to look, present it to your husband. After he makes his changes, which will be plenty, you can start work. That’s the way it works at my house. Good luck!

This column by Kay Williams (the Flower Lady) is designed to answer your gardening questions. Send questions to or to


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