YARD AND GARDEN: A gardening project for February | Home & Garden

February is just a few days away.

And while it’s still too early to be doing anything in the garden, we can be planning ahead and probably have more time than usual with the pandemic to do some craft projects.

Consider refurbishing the harsh-looking red appearance associated with modern terra-cotta pots that have been made by machine or even the real terra-cotta pots which have seen better days. You will nee to plan ahead as to where you want to place them and the affect you would like them to achieve.

Of course, our planters have to be clean and one can hope you did that last fall. If not, you can do it now – at least to the smaller pots. You need to remove any leftover salts, mildew or fungi that can be harmful to new seedlings.

Dump out old dirt and debris, removing any deposits with a stiff brush. Mix one-part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water in a basin or tub (you can use a spray bottle to saturate big pots). Immerse small pots in the basin; scrub all sides and soak 10 minutes. Rinse plastic glazed and large pots with a garden hose but soak small clay pots in clear water for 10 minutes to rinse and air dry.

OK, after the pots are clean and dry, we are now ready to do some painting. I will have to be honest and say that I’ve painted large pots that are still filled with soil and worried about cleaning the pot after the paint has been in place for some time and it is time to plant.

If you don’t have any leftover paint from other projects, you might have to purchase a quart or more of various colors of acrylic paint. You might wish to choose colors that match the architectural background of your garden.

To create the greatest impact, paint the pots in simple striking designs and select plants to harmonize with the overall color scheme. As a result, you are also planning what plants you will want to purchase come spring.

You should pick one light color and the other a darker color such as bright yellow and a contrasting medium dark green. Paint some of the pots the light color and others the darker color and then using the opposite color on each pot, paint large dots, stripes, or even V-shaped stripes leaving some of the pots the plain light or dark color.

This will work with so many flowering plants, but when it comes to plants like herbs that are basically green, I get a bit more artistic and paint a floral design on the planter as the plant itself will not have flowers. Use your imagination and come up with something that will make you smile.

I recently saw an article about giving new life to old cans such as paint cans or coffee tins. You need to clean the container much the same as described above for cleaning planters. Next, you will have to use a drill or screwdriver to make holes in the bottom of the cans for drainage. You will need, as you did for the above, acrylic paint, a brush and a clear gloss finish preparing the old cans as cool planters.

One idea was to paint the cans white or off white and many different colors of dots painted with a small brush. The tin cans are best protected with a spray-on clear gloss finish. Again, use your imagination as to the design to be painted – perfect round dots aren’t that easy. These cans can be hung on a fence (before painting punch two holes near the top to string a cord or wire through to hold in place on the fence) or set on the steps of an old step ladder or even tie to the limb of a tree as a welcome perch for backyard birds.

Enjoy your project and look forward to a bright sunny spring.

If you have questions about your garden or landscape, contact a master gardener at the University of Illinois Extension office in Mattoon at 217-345-7034 or our online hotline at https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/1523725. Be sure to visit U of I Extension’s horticulture website http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/ and like the Master Gardeners’ Facebook page www.facebook.com/ColesCountyMasterGardeners.