It’s that time of year when trees are starting to bud, blossoms are forming and there’s more and more green all around. It’s what gardeners spend all winter daydreaming about as they browse seed catalogs, and the time many new gardeners sow their very first seeds.
With all the beautiful weather, the motivation to get outside and in the yard is at a high. So, what do you do once you’re out there? Here’s a list of the best things to do for your garden – new or old – in the spring.
Please note that every hardiness zone is going to have a slightly – or very – different to-do list for spring. The following recommendations are best followed when the ground in your area is thawed and ready for planting.
Prepare Your Soil
If you’ve done any reading about gardening, you know by now what everyone says about soil: it’s THE most important. It’s not just a cliche – it’s true. First things first, prepare your soil for planting season.
Add compost and/or aged manure to all of your growing space. I always add at least a few inches to the top of the soil, but this can depend on your space – add what you can and try to do so at least a few weeks before planting. If you just can’t wait that long, no problem. However, you do want to wait at least one day before planting directly in it. After adding the compost and/or aged manure, water the soil and let it settle. What you are avoiding by allowing it to settle first is the soil getting too compacted and your seeds, or the roots of your starts, getting harmed. After at least a day, plant your seeds or starts.
If you already have plants in the ground, just spread the compost and/or aged manure around the base of each.
Expand Your Growing Space
Sheet mulching is a great way to smother weeds while enriching your soil with more organic matter. You can sheet mulch now to prepare space for a fall garden, or plant right into the sheet mulch this season. One of my favorite gardening podcasts, Encyclopedia Botanica, shares more in Episode 22: Sheet Mulching.
Install A Drip System for Watering
While you may not have your summer vacation planned yet, this will allow you to keep your garden growing while you head out of town worry-free. It’s my top recommendation for gardeners because it allows the plants to have consistent watering at the soil level, eliminating water waste and helping your plants thrive. Learn how to set up a system and where you can buy one.
With spring showers in the near future and the heat of summer coming, it’s the perfect time to mulch. Mulch will help your soil stay moist longer, taking advantage of every raindrop, and it will help regulate temperatures as they continue to rise. Learn more about the importance of mulching.
This varies based on your climate. If you don’t already know your average frost dates, head here to determine your average first and last frost dates by clicking on Frost Calculator. Then, you can determine what to plant. And remember the averages are just that – averages. Be sure to check the 15-day forecast in addition to knowing the average first and last freeze dates.
Prune Your Fruit Trees and Rose Bushes
As with sowing seeds, this is one of the steps where knowing your hardiness zone is super important. Depending on your climate, it may be too early or too late to do any pruning. Be sure to read through the articles to prune at the right time for your location.
How/When to Prune
Clean Garden Tools
Some of my favorite garden tools are my favorite because they are easy to clean. The gloves I use simply need a quick run through the laundry, and the pruning shears, small shovel and trowel set just need soap and water to get the job done.
It’s good to clean your tools as often as you can to prevent spreading diseases and/or pest eggs in the garden. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to do this every single time, so spring is one of those times that I make sure to do so.
When cleaning any tools that could potentially rust, be sure to dry them thoroughly before putting them away.
Start a Compost System
Just like it’s a great time to start a new garden, it’s a great time to start a compost bin! I have tried all sorts of methods for composting, including the super lazy “toss everything into a pile” method. While that method worked to get started quickly, we just finished building this three bin system, and I’m thrilled to have it more organized.
Research the different options and find what works best for you. Just try not to overthink it, so you can get started as soon as possible.
Start Saving Rain Water
April showers can bring more than just May flowers if you set up a system to store all that rainwater. Some of my favorite benefits of doing this include the money savings, the preference that plants have for rainwater and the fact that you can still water in the heat of the summer despite any water restrictions your area is facing.
Now Get Out There!
Spring is a busy time in the garden but it’s because it’s the best time for so many garden-related activities. If you take advantage of the beautiful weather and complete some, or all, of these tasks now, I promise you won’t regret it come summer.