10 Ways to Get the Garden Ready for Spring
The seed catalogs are arriving in the mail, offering page after colorful page of everything from arugula and asters to zucchini and zinnias. Whether you plant vegetables, flowers or both, planning ahead to get your garden ready for spring can lead to a bounty of beautiful plantings to be enjoyed all summer long.
- Start by figuring what you want to plant, and where. Evaluate your yard for sun exposure and daylight hours. Six or more hours of direct sunlight is typically considered full sun, while partial sun is three or four hours of direct sunlight. Many herbs do well in partial sun. Consider the time of day sunlight falls on planting space; a space that gets five hours of direct sun between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. during July or August can get very hot, so plants in those areas might need more watering.
- Think about companion planting, which is the practice of growing different plants in close proximity for the best yield. Certain plants have complimentary characteristics that are beneficial to other plants in terms of pest control, soil nutrition, pollination and attracting beneficial insects. For more in companion planting, visit https://www.almanac.com/companion-planting-guide-vegetables.
- Decide if you want to purchase starts from a garden center or if you want to start your own plants from seeds. Plants can be started indoors in small pots, trays, egg cartons and other recycled containers; just punch drainage holes through. Pots can be placed under grow lights or on a sunny windowsill. Winter sowing is also an effective method to start seedlings in miniature greenhouses made from milk jugs. To learn how, see “Winter Sowing 101” (https://www.agardenforthehouse.com/winter-sowing-101-6/).
- Inspect all garden tools and equipment to see if anything needs to be replaced, cleaned or sharpened.
- Check if supplies such as soil amendments, liquid or powder plant nutrients, fertilizers and garden pest repellants (if you use those) or mulch has to be restocked.
- Once the threat of frost is over and the soil is workable, get outdoors and clean out flower and vegetable beds. Removing any leftover vegetables that didn’t survive the winter. Pull weeds and rake matted leaves off the lawn. Till soil and spread one to two inches of fresh compost on the beds. Adding organic nutrients such as kelp meal will help condition the soil and improve soil deficiencies.
- Certain hardy plants such as summer flowering bulbs can be planted early in the season. Veggies like lettuce, spinach and broccoli do best in cooler weather and can be planted in March and April. Wait to plant tender annuals, vegetables and seedlings until the threat of frost has passed.
- Inspect trees and shrubs for winter damage. Prune summer blooming flowering shrubs. Remove winter protection such as burlap barriers, wraps and flower cones.
- Dig and divide perennials like hostas and daylilies before new growth begins.
- Fix or add to hardscapes. Fill in any cracks on brick paths with sand, and add stone edging, fencing or other features.
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