Spring Garden Preparation Checklist

Spring Garden Preparation ChecklistWhile it’s important to have the right plants, it takes work to maintain and prepare a beautiful garden. Before you start your spring planting, here are 7 steps you should take to get your garden ready for a great season:

1. Organize Your Shed

Take a look at the landscaping supplies you have in your shed. You may want to upgrade or expand your collection if you don’t have enough of what you need, or you may have some hinges that need to be oiled, or some blades that need to be sharpened. A mill file will keep your blades sharp, while penetrating oil will remove corrosion from your tools and prevent it from returning. A sharp, well-oiled gardening tool makes for easier digs and cuts. It’s very important to have the right landscaping supples in place for an easy, hassle-free season.

You should also restock any other supplies you will need, such as soil amendments or fertilizer. In addition, you may want to pre-assemble structures for your vegetables, and replenish your plant supports. We recommend getting this work done in your shed in cooler weather, rather than waiting until later in the season when you would rather be doing other things outside.

2. Remove Debris, Mulch, and Weeds

Your garden is probably in need of some spring cleaning. Remove anything that’s obstructing your beds down to bare soil. Any dead organic matter can be broken down in the compost pile. Well-composted organic matter or mulch can remain, as it can be included with the soil. To expose the soil, any fresh mulch should be raked away.

You will need to check and see if there are any weeds present. Living weeds must be removed and placed in a compost pile where heat can kill them before the seeds grow. If that is not an option, you will need to burn them. Any weeds you leave behind will compete with the other plants in your garden if you don’t remove them before spring starts.

3. Prune

This time of year, your shrubs or trees should get a good pruning, especially if they bloom on fresh wood. The best time to prune existing wood is during the late winter or early spring. The branch structure is easier to see and you will be able to shape the plants before they bloom, thus causing them to invest energy in growing more branches.

Before you trim them, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind. First, you should use some isopropyl alcohol with a clean rag to sterilize your pruners prior to each cut. This simple precaution will prevent you from spreading plant diseases inadvertently all over your other plants. Surgeons always sterilize their tools before they perform surgery – the same should be done for your pruners as well. Second, there are some plants that bloom on existing wood that should NEVER be pruned this time of year.

When you are pruning your plants, add some fertilizer to the soil so that the plant has the nutrients it needs to heal its wounds and grow properly.

4. Prepare Your Soil

Once the frost has dissipated, you can start setting up your garden beds. During the winter months, soil can become compacted. You will need to turn or till the soil to loosen it back up again. This can be done by using a sharp blade or a tiller. You want to work the soil to a 12–14-inch depth in order to loosen most of it. If there is any leaf or mulch litter that is well-composted, you can mix it in, but if it’s too fresh, it should be removed.

The amendments and compost should be added next. You can test your nutrient and pH levels with a soil test. This will tell you what materials you’ll need to add. If you have clay-based soil or poor soil, you will need to add some fresh compost to improve your soil’s moisture-retention, nutrient content, and texture. Finally, you will need to lightly water the soil and rake the soil level so it will release air pockets and settle.

5. Set Up New Garden Beds and Planters

It’s fun to explore the latest catalogs full of beautiful, new plant varieties, but it can be tempting to order more plants than you have space for. The best time of year to build a garden bed is during the spring. To ensure you have enough space to show off your new plants, you should order new pots and install new window boxes or shepherd’s hooks.

6. Plant Early

Now is the best time to get the first round of planting done for the season. You can start some plants indoors, including hardy vegetables such as lettuce, artichokes, potatoes, and onions, and move them into your garden when warmer weather arrives. Make sure you look at the plant information before you start growing your vegetables.

Perennials and bulbs are fairly cut-and-dry to plant. All you have to do is dig, drop your bulb in the soil, and you’re done. Using the proper spacing and depth, dig a hole, add any necessary soil amendments, add the root ball or bulb, and make sure that the crown is at soil level. You will then fill the hole in and thoroughly water in your bulbs or root balls.

Here is a tip that will help the roots of your shrubs or trees settle into their new spaces. It’s called the moat method. You will need to dig a hole that is wide enough and large enough to accommodate the roots of the plant. Next, a cone of amended soil should be added so your roots will have a spot to rest on. Finally, you will fill the hole in with some more amended soil. Before you water your new tree or shrub, create a soil ring around the plant that is slightly wider than the hole. The ring acts like a berm while the plant is watered in, which will allow it to become deeply saturated without transforming the entire area into a pit of mud.

7. Apply Burlap or Ground Cover

A thick layer of mulch should be applied to your bed wherever you can. Mulch prevents the establishment of weeds if it is applied before the weeds start growing. You may already have some germinating seeds that you don’t want to bury underneath your mulch, or you might still be waiting to put in some other plants, which can be avoided if you start your seedlings indoors, work around previously-established plants, or purchase well-established nursery plants. The weeds will beat you to the punch if you wait too long to mulch an area, so you should finish this task as soon as possible!