Get ready for plant camp. All of your houseplants have put up with your low light, low humidity, and cramped conditions all winter, and now it’s time to let them go outside and stretch their leaves. Remember, though, because they’ve been indoors, they are not accustomed to strong light and need to be eased out into the brighter outdoor world. Put them in a nice shady spot until you figure out where they want to spend the summer.

Play with some new toys. This weekend my neighbor let me borrow her battery-powered lawn mower, and within minutes I was in love. I didn’t have to de-winterize it: I didn’t have to run out and buy gas; I didn’t have to check the oil; I didn’t have to prime the pump; I didn’t have to change the air filter. And I didn’t have to dislocate my shoulder pulling on the stupid cable. All I did was pop in the batteries, press the button, and pull a lever. It had large back wheels, which made it easy to maneuver, and it was lightweight so I was able to carry it over obstacles. When I flipped it over to look at its two adorable little blades (one for cutting and the other for mulching,) I didn’t have to worry about dripping gas or oil all over everything. And it never ever, ever, ever stalled, even when I ran over thick piles of leaves and pine needles. Did I mention I’m in love?

Free the figs. If, like the rest of us in zones 6 and 7, you put your fig trees into bondage last fall to protect them from the cold, it’s time to let them out. This weekend I pulled the coverings away to reveal that half of my Brown Turkey has survived the winter, and 100 percent of my Chicago variety has seen it through, precociously showing a few new baby figs.

Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society ( and winner of the AHS Great American Gardener Jane L. Taylor award.