Make That Lingering Snow Earn Its Keep

– Posted in: Design, Front of the House, Hardscaping and Projects, How-to, New House, New Gardens
13 comments

March 18th: First snowdrop sighting

The snow is melting, but not fast enough to suit me. I’ve already taken pictures of where the snow melts first, so I know where to plant my spring-flowering bulbs this fall. In the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons, I realized this lingering snow was the perfect opportunity to outline a new garden bed that I hope to plant later on this spring. After all, I only have about forty-five plants in containers waiting for their chance to sink their roots into bona fide soil.

So I dug out my sketches for the front walk and noted I could go in twenty feet from the road. I measured that distance up the front walk (which was clear of snow) and marked it with a footprint on each side. I already knew that the northern side of the bed would need to curve to the road in such a way as to allow room for a truck.

map showing potential path of truck across lawn

The truck towing a trailer needed to have access to those double doors at the end. It would need to traverse the proposed front walk to get there. It’s about twenty feet from the road to the truck path.

After spending a good bit of the winter pondering the south side of the walk, combined with standing on the other side of the street on mild days and viewing the house from various angles, I decided that for now I would pretend there was a path from the southernmost door all the way to the road, and curve the border to line up with that path. And then I stomped it out, like this:
Make a garden bed outline with your feet and view from a window

I stamped an outline of my proposed garden bed into the snow, so I could view it from a window.

I went upstairs and viewed it from several windows. I also viewed it from the downstairs windows, and from every other vantage point I could think of. I got my full use out of that remaining snow!
Stomp the outline of your garden bed into the snow and view from upstairs

Cheaper than landscape paint! Draw your lines in the snow.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.

~Margaret Atwood in

13 Comments… add one

Pukh May 8, 2014, 7:19 am

Hey Kathy,

I really enjoy your articles :) They are simply amazing for me. You really helped me with your information. Keep the good work up :)

Cheers Pukh

commonweeder April 7, 2014, 10:49 am

You always have such good ideas. I finally got smart last spring and moved some of my early bulbs near the house, and planted more near the house in the fall. I am starting to get the benefit – snowdrops blooming near the house, while others are still under snow in ‘the orchard’

Kathy Purdy April 7, 2014, 11:35 am

Oh, good, I’m so glad to hear that, Pat. You need to see something blooming as soon as possible.

Joene at joene's garden March 31, 2014, 10:28 pm

Very clever use of snowcover, Kathy. You’re always thinking!

Donna@Gardens Eye View March 31, 2014, 1:53 pm

With all our snow and the slow melt I am also looking where the snow melts, where I need to add bulbs and looking at the vole damage. Mud season starting and it is impossible to get to much of the garden.

Weedy March 26, 2014, 7:52 pm

My next problem will be cleaning up the mess of dead vegetation and leaves under the snow. As always the temptation will be to uncover plants too soon and then something will freeze and I will be sorry!——————Weedy

Weedy March 26, 2014, 11:40 am

The side of my oddly shaped shack by a railroad track faces South, so usually the area there melts ever outward until it’s six feet or so wide, then the crocus and Iris reticulata bloom. This year so far only one small clump of Galanthus worrii (I can’t spell it) is budding, but the shoots are barely showing on the iris and I can see no crocus.—————Weedy.

Deborah B March 24, 2014, 9:36 pm

That’s a good idea. You do seem eager to get started. What I’ve discovered this spring as the snow melts is the huge number of mole mounds that we have out in the yard. And out in the field. The worst areas are more mole hill than lawn; I’m pondering whether I should just turn them into new garden beds, since most of the digging has already been done for me. Maybe it will look a little odd at first to have these little bubbles of garden bed here and there, but I think they’ll all connect soon anyway with the mole community’s help.

Kathy Purdy March 24, 2014, 9:51 pm

Eager to get started? Who, me? Since I did go out on Saturday in my waterproof snowpants to cut the old hellebore leaves (and today I learn on A Way to Garden that I should not have cut the nigers), my next task will be to prune. If I can’t find anything else that needs pruning, I will clear trail. But is it moles you have such problems with, or voles?

Frank March 24, 2014, 6:41 pm

It’s disgusting how much snow you still have.
You’ve put it to good use though and I hope this is the week where things melt off a bit. Things outside are just as anxious for spring to start as we are, the first warm day here had snowdrops opening like crazy…. too bad it didn’t last. I can’t wait to see how your beds turn out!

Kathy Purdy March 24, 2014, 7:00 pm

Well, by the time I wrote that post, more had melted. We are down to a few big patches and everywhere that it was piled up along the road and by the driveway. Part of the problem is we are surrounded by trees, which block some sun and heat, even while leafless. The fields down the street have no snow at all left. Fortunately the Tuesday night snowstorm up the eastern coast will miss us.

Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern March 24, 2014, 7:52 am

Brilliant! I can’t wait to see the new bed planted. I can’t wait to plant for that matter. I can’t wait to just put my winter coat away … aye, aye. Once I made sculptures out of the snow where I wanted to put shrubs. You might set a new trend – snow gardening. All the gardeners will be out there sculpting new beds with beautiful plants in them! You have reminded me to plant some poppy seeds! Thank you.

Don Statham March 23, 2014, 12:15 pm

Kathy,
Looks like someone is anxious to get going! Good idea: (drawing in snow) for us who are late to experience spring! Hope you will keep posting the evolution of the new area you will be developing. It’s exciting. Don

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