The change from winter to spring can happen suddenly, as signs for growth and renewal quickly replace images of snow and slush. If you’re not ready for it, you can find yourself rushing to ready your garden when it’s already starting to grow.
It will take time for the ground to be ready for planting seeds or transplanting seedlings, but there are steps that you can take to ready your garden. It’s an opportunity to clean up after a long winter and assess your garden’s needs. Having a plan puts you in control, making sure that you’ve taken the steps to prepare your yard. It allows you to control how and where things grow instead of having to work around wayward plants and flowers.
Follow these steps to set yourself up for a well-maintained and easily managed garden all summer long.
Before you can think of what to grow, you need to clear the land of dead growth and any protective coverings you may have used. If you use burlap sacks or wraps, you can begin by removing them once the threat of frost has passed.
Inspect your trees and shrubs for signs of damage. Winter can cause a lot of damage, so look for broken branches or dry tips on evergreens. Clip and prune these damaged areas back to help your trees and shrubs grow stronger.
Next, clean up any debris that has collected on your lawn and in your flower beds. This includes branches, leaves and any annuals that remain from the fall. Rake the lawn and gather all these materials either for composting or for yard waste collection.
Take this opportunity to look for weeds and remove them while they’re still young and the ground is still soft. It’s much easier to weed in early spring then it is in the summer when they’ve had the chance to grow and develop stronger roots.
Once you’ve cleaned your property and before your garden has begun to grow, you have a clean slate to plan your landscaping. Are you happy with how things grew last year or are there some changes that you’d like to make?
This is your best chance to landscape your garden without disrupting any growth. Think of how your garden grew in previous seasons. What were you happy with? What didn’t work?
Once you’ve determined what you’d like your yard to look like, go out and make the changes. Putting in the effort not only saves you the trouble of working around an already growing garden. It also lets you enjoy these enhancements all summer.
Your garden will be showing signs of life before you know it, so ready the beds early to optimize growth. Turn the soil and evenly rake it out, adding the right fertilizer for the plants you’ll grow. A soil test will let you know if there are any additional nutrients you should consider for better growth.
Edging your beds not only improves the look of your garden but also provides a lip to help keep mulch from sliding away. You will want to maintain your edges throughout the season, but cutting your initial lines early makes it easier to clean without risking damage to any growth.
If you have perennials that have been growing beyond their space, now is the time to divide them. Splitting them before new growth occurs improves their chances of survival while allowing you to control their size and improve their health.
Start by digging the plants out, roots and all. Separate them by either pulling them apart from the roots or by cutting them with a knife or spade. Replant them and provide plenty of water and shade until they’ve had a chance to settle in.
Laying new grass seed is best done either in the fall or spring. Wait for the ground to thaw, then prep it by using a rotary tiller. Use a garden hose to soften it, then lay your seed. Continue to water it regularly to encourage growth.
If you’re looking to fill in a few bare spots, you can loosely spread seed over the problem areas. Again, water the seeded areas regularly. Some products can be laid on top of grass seed, but read the instructions carefully. Young grass is weak and can suffocate under heavy soil.
As the weather gets warmer, you can start to plant flowers and seeds in your garden. Follow the instructions for the optimal time for each plant type.
One thing to consider is what time of the year each type of plant blooms. Vary your selection so you’ll have different plants maturing at different times throughout the season. Also, keep in mind how much space each plant requires and how high they’ll grow. Don’t let taller plants block out the sun for smaller plants.
Speaking of plant height, prepare stakes, trellises, and other supportive structures for your garden. Waiting too long to add support can limit growth while risking damage if you add stakes later.
Getting a headstart on your landscaping will help you get set for a well-organized lawn. Taking the right steps now will save you trouble later in the season. Follow these steps for a great garden all summer long.