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Five things to do in the garden while social distancing

A gloved hand holds pruners next to a bare branch.
Sheltering in place? As long as your place includes a yard large enough to keep a safe distance away from people, you can still get outdoors and garden.
Here are suggestions from The Morton Arboretum’s Plant Clinic for five things you can do in the yard this April. 
1. Make a plan.
Measure your yard. Draw a plan  using the dimensions. Show major permanent objects such as buildings, trees, and paths. Note where sunlight falls. Save the plan on your computer or make copies so you can use it for years to come. Next spring, it will be a lot easier to make major changes, and you’ll be prepared.
2. Assess your yard.
Are there trees or shrubs that have become too large for the space and need pruning? Does the lawn have bare spots that need reseeding? Are there dead plants or other eyesores, such as broken lawn furniture, that you can dispose of? 
3. Identify your trees and plants.
Since different kinds of plants have different needs, knowing the names of all the plants in your yard, from trees to weeds, is important. Seek help from the Plant Clinic or the Arboretum’s Tree and Plant Pages to identify your plants. Start with trees and shrubs; as soon as the leaves emerge so you can take pictures of them. Then research your plants to understand how to care for them. 
4. Clean up.
Pick up trash. Rake debris from the lawn. Cut back tall perennial stalks. Fluff up matted leaves on perennial beds. Just don’t get too tidy: A layer of organic matter on the soil is good for your plants. And, of course, start weeding! Many of the first plants that sprout in the spring are weeds.
5. Care for your soil.
Avoid digging, or even walking on the soil, when it’s still wet from spring rains. Working wet soil can compact it, making it dense and suffocating for the roots of your plants. When your soil is merely moist to the touch, not wet, you can begin dividing perennials, transplanting shrubs, and other digging tasks.