Preparing Your Garden for Spring

Now is the time to get your garden ready for spring. Here are some general tips to get your space ready for growth!

Take Stock

This is probably the most important step and you should not skip it. Most of us are eager to get out and actually do something in the garden after a long winter but taking stock of what had happened over the winter is so important.

  • Fences and trellises. Have they started to break or splinter from the moisture? Now is the time to mend them.
  • Raised beds. If you use raised garden beds, it is important to check the sides. Are they bowing? Are the joints coming apart? If so, fix them now. You don’t want to plant in something that will start coming apart in the middle of the season.
  • Winter weeds. No matter how well you weeded before the winter set in, there will still be weeds out there. Take stock. Will you need a tiller to get them up, or will a hoe do?
  • Garden furniture. Now is the time to inspect your outdoor furniture too. Will anything need replacing? If you notice it now, you can be on the lookout for upcoming sales, rather than waiting till mid season when prices are the highest.

Generally, give your garden beds a good once over. Most garden beds suffer from the heavy rains of winter and need some TLC.

Start Saving Containers for Seed Planting

Don’t wait until it’s seed planting time before you think about containers. If you don’t have a supply of pots for them, you can save household items to use for planting seeds indoors to give them a head start. In addition to retail plant starters, some inexpensive and good containers are egg cartons, yogurt containers, margarine tubs, and the like. If you have pots on hand, be sure to disinfect them so that they will be ready when it is time for you to plant the seeds. Paperboard egg cartons are great for starting seeds.

Inspect Your Soil

To really get your garden ready for spring, start with the soil. One of the biggest mistakes that inexperienced gardeners make is to start planting and working the soil too early. Months of snow and rain make for wet and compacted soil. If you work it now, it can get more compacted from walking on it, or from any machinery you use on it. Pick up a ball of soil. If it stays compacted in a ball, it is too early to work it. The soil should break apart easily, not stay in a firm ball. If you have not done so, test your soil with a soil testing kit to make sure you get off to a good start.

Start your Perennial Cleanup

Once the soil is sufficiently dry, it’s time to start cleaning up your perennials. What you will do depends on the type of perennial in question. For most perennials, if you didn’t prune your perennials last fall, do so now. Remove any dead plants and add them to the compost bin. If they really are dead, they won’t grow back.

Some perennials with woody stems actually prefer pruning in the spring. Examples are buddlea, and lavender. Evergreen perennials don’t really go dormant in some areas of the country, but may still need trimming now. Early spring is a good time for pruning roses. Do this before the leaf buds open. This will allow the plant to send its energy into the new growth.

Set up a Compost Area

If you do not compost, what are you waiting for? The rich earthy compost is black gold to experienced gardeners. Find a level area of your garden and start your compost pile there. You don’t even need a fancy compost bin. If you have about 10 feet free, you can use a rolling compost pile.

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