Sure you love your country lifestyle — the beauty of nature, the reward of hard work, the satisfaction of land stewardship. But when the days are short and the nights are long, are you dreaming of green? Get a head start on your garden so you can get growing as soon as the weather turns warm.

Map it out.

Start by deciding where your garden will go and what you want to plant there. Will you have a flower garden in front that attracts birds, butterflies and bees, and shows off your country pride? Or a vegetable garden out the kitchen door that produces food for your family all summer long? Maybe you want both!

Whatever you choose, research which plants that will grow best in your garden’s climate, soil and sun. Consider planting items that grow well together, like tomatoes and garlic, beans and beets, roses and geraniums — each offers its companion vital nutrients or pest protection to ensure their mutual survival. Keep detailed notes of when and how to plant what you want so you’re ready to go when spring arrives.

Gather your tools.

It’s best to keep it simple — you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to create a garden you can be proud of; you just need to invest in a few quality pieces and keep them in good working order. File and sharpen your trowel, shovel, clippers and pruners, taking care to remove rust along the way. Wipe everything down with a damp cloth, including your garden fork and rake, and store them in a dry place.

If you’re planning on plants that grow tall or need support, make sure you have trellises and some string. A watering can with a detachable head is a must-have, as is an adjustable hose nozzle — though you may also want to invest in a watering wand for better control over the spray. A wheelbarrow is nice to have, depending on the size of your garden and how much material you need to move. And don’t forget to pick up a few pairs of gardening gloves to protect your hands from the elements.

Enrich your soil.

Even in the dead of winter, you can lay the foundation for nutrient-dense soil by composting. It’s easy! Simply toss your kitchen scraps into your garden bed and let nature do the rest. The key here is to be selective about the types of organic material you compost — a stinky yard that attracts critters is not part of your country lifestyle!

Crushed eggshells have lots of calcium carbonate that’s great for tomatoes, peppers, spinach and roses. Nitrogen from leftover coffee grounds can increase healthy foliage in carrots, corn, onions and azaleas. Nut shells can help aerate compact soil and reduce weeds. When the ground thaws and you dig up your garden, simply work these ingredients into your soil and let them get to work!

Whether you’re planning the garden of your dreams or getting ready to start planting, Country Cool has quality apparel and gear to fit your country lifestyle and get you outside!