Azaleas in front of my house in Wilmington

A lot of people don't realize it, but the early spring months in Wilmington, NC are some of the nicest times of the year. Late February and into March are great, since they precede the rainy and pollen-stricken period of mid-late April and offers cooler, less humid days that are perfect for working outdoors.

If you're a Wilmington homeowner, you might want to take advantage of these beautiful days by getting a head start on your spring landscaping. There aren't many days left in this mild month, so get started by following these tips:

1. Out with the old

Take an afternoon (or a whole day, if you have a big yard) to clean out dead foliage, cut back withered plants and remove any fallen tree branches or other yard debris.

2. Weed patrol

Remove weeds from flower beds, veggie gardens or other landscaped areas and be sure to check your yard for signs of new weeds popping up. You can visit your local home improvement store to get weed killer, but be careful - some of the chemicals in herbicides can damage your lawn or other plants. Just make sure you read the labels and instructions before using.

3. Time to fertilize

Depending on the type of fertilizer you use, you can fertilize early to ensure thriving plants throughout the upcoming season. Again, just be sure to read the instructions carefully before applying. If you have a well-decomposed compost heap, go ahead and start mixing the dead organic matter in with the soil in your flower beds or veggie gardens.

4. Run a check-up on your irrigation system

Make sure all of your sprinklers are in working order. Even if you don't have underground system, you can still take some time to make sure your outdoor faucets, hoses and above-ground sprinklers aren't cracked or damaged from exposure to the elements.

5. In with the new

Time to start adding in some new material: grass seed, seasonal flowers, mulch. Thinking of growing some fruits or veggies? Depending on what you buy, you could use this time to plant seeds or harden off your seedlings and get them ready to plant in the ground.

Happy Landscaping!