Benefits of yard work outweigh challenges

By Clyde Davis: Local columnist

There’s a book by western writer Elmer Kelton set, as are most of his stories, in West Texas. The name of the novel is “The Time It Never Rained.” This could provide us with an apt title for the winter we are just finishing.

Nonetheless, the time is upon us to plan for yards and gardening, at least for those who enjoy such activities. In all honesty, the benefits outweigh the challenges — being outdoors, low-level exercise, feeling of accomplishment when things grow —all for reasonable cost.

Speaking with Curt Jaynes, co-owner of Gardensource, located just north of Portales, reminded me that, first and foremost, it is time to fertilize and prepare the lawn. I don’t know if your lawn has suffered as badly as mine, but I would be willing to bet it has. Jaynes also mentioned that it is time to trim and prune last year’s dead growth, and fertilize and deep water shrubs and trees, if one hasn’t done so over the winter.

Driving past Gardensource, Hamilton’s, Guthal’s and other nurseries, I see signs reminding me as well that it is the time of year to place bulbs in the ground — flowers, onions, asparagus and other spring planting such as rhubarbs or asparagus. I have always wanted to try growing asparagus. …

Early spring is a good time, as well, to plant shrubs and trees.

Gardensource, and presumably other area nurseries, carries a full line of environmentally friendly outdoor plantings. I do know for a fact that xeriscaping ( the practice of ecologically appropriate planting) is a special concern for Curt and Lisa. In addition, container gardening seems to be catching on as an alternative to trying to turn our landscape into something it isn’t meant to be. Given the dry winter we have just had, it only makes sense.

After I get finished thatching my lawn, I may want to see how much money it will cost to sod the poor thing. Sodding can take place at this time of year with cold weather grasses such as fescue.

Maybe you would like to landscape but aren’t sure of your energy level or have time constraints. Lots of options are available, everything from having it all done for you to simply purchasing the materials and rolling up your sleeves, along with every step in between.

Want to learn more? Eastern New Mexico University Extended Learning is holding a one-day gardening workshop on Saturday, April 29. Make it easy — just remember the Saturday before May Day. Call 562-2165 to register.

Now if I can just remember to remove the thatching rake from the place where it’s been leaning against our willow tree. … Well, there’s gardening, and then there’s cleaning up.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: