How To Get Your Garden Ready For Spring

How to get your garden ready for spring | Itching to get out in the garden but it's too early to start planting? There is still a lot you can do! Find out how to get your garden ready for spring. Plus get a free workbook to help you get everything done!
How to get your garden ready for spring

It’s the time of year when gardeners are itching to get outside, but too early to actually start planting.  There’s still a lot of things that can be done to prepare your garden for spring…so that you can get out in the yard during the nice days.

Once the snow is melted but before the frost comes out of the ground, it is time to assess winter damage, note hardscape repairs needed, and start a surface clean-up.  I want to do these jobs before the bulbs and perennials start to sprout so that I do not trample the new growth.  Here are the initial tasks I do in early spring.

Continue reading to see how to get your garden for ready spring.

Pick Up The Garbage

Pick up garbage | How To Get Your Garden Ready For Spring
Pick up garbage

This isn’t a very glamorous task, but you will be surprised what has accumulated over the winter!  Walk around with a plastic bag and retrieve all the bits of paper and trash that have blown onto your property over the winter. If you live in a neighborhood like mine, you will also likely need a small spade to pick up after those dog walkers who have neglected to be courteous.

Rake the Grass

Fan rake*

Now is the time to rake the lawn to rid it of debris like leaves, twigs, dirt, etc.  Use a fan rake for this because you do not want to risk pulling up any grass roots.

I like to lightly strew grass seed around at this point.  Then, when it rains (or snows), the seeds are drawn into the soil and are ready to sprout as the ground gets warmer.  Of course, some of the seeds will be eaten by birds but there will be enough remaining to rejuvenate your grass.

Trim Back Perennials

Look for perennials that need to be cut back | How To Get Your Garden Ready For Spring
Look for perennials that need to be cut back

I leave most of my perennials and grasses untrimmed in the fall so that they provide winter food and shelter for the birds.  This time of year they look very ratty and unkempt.

Cut back perennials | How To Get Your Garden Ready For Spring
Cut back perennials

I go around with my pruning shears and trim them to an inch or two from the ground. Try to avoid any root damage by cutting off the old stems rather than yanking at them.  I do the perennials, grasses, and the peonies (except the tree peonies).

Prune Bushes and Trees

Prune crossing broken branches from bushes and trees | How To Get Your Garden Ready For Spring
Prune crossing broken branches from bushes and trees

Now is the time to remove the old wood from the raspberry bushes and tie up the drooping branches that will produce fruit this summer.

Avoid any severe pruning of the spring bloomers, such as the lilacs, azaleas, rhododendrons, and pieris.  For other bushes and trees, cut off any broken or crossing branches.

Cut back the clematis climbers depending on when they bloom.  The spring bloomers get trimmed back to the top sprouting buds, the summer bloomers get trimmed to 2-3 feet from the ground.  The fall blooming clematis paniculata (autumn clematis) can be kept in check by cutting the stems to 1 foot from the ground.

Roses can be pruned back now, although I usually only tidy the climbers and retie them to their supports.

Resist touching the hydrangeas.  It is too early to remove the old blossoms.  This can be done only after all danger of frost is past.

Once all of this is done, I like to take the pruning shears to the hardware store for sharpening once I have finished the early spring clean-up so that they are in good shape for the rest of the year.

Fertilize

Organic Soil Acifidier

Throw a handful of azalea/rhododendron fertilizer, soil acidifier around the azaleas, rhododendrons, pieris, blueberries, and blooming dogwoods.  This is only necessary if your soil is not naturally acidic.  My soil has a sand base so the nutrients leach out.

Epsom Salt*

Toss a handful of Epsom salts under every rose bush. This replenishes the magnesium in the soil and enhances growth and vigor.  I think it helps combat black spot and mildew and is much less expensive than rose fertilizer.  It can be purchased in the drug store.  I do apply rose fertilizer, but not until late May, when the roses are leafed out.

Add triple-mix  or manure on top of the soil around all bushes.  Keep it an inch or 2 away from the stems to prevent burning the bark.  I don’t ever get around to doing the entire garden so I choose an area that did not get any organic matter added last year.

If you have a compost bin, empty its contents onto the rhubarb patch and the raspberry patch, or any other perennial fruit and vegetables.  If I do not have enough, I apply purchased sheep or cattle manure to the raspberries, strawberries and blueberries annually.  There is no digging involved with this process.  I let the worms  and rain draw the new organic matter into the soil.

Make a Repair List

Make note of repairs, like picket fence boards that need to be replaced | How To Get Your Garden Ready For Spring
Make note of repairs, like picket fence boards that need to be replaced

Make a note of those hard structures that need to be repaired, painted, or chucked.

I noticed that my reed fence is the worse for wear and plan to redesign it…you may want to watch for this post later on.

Picket fences (like the one I have in the front yard) can be salvaged with a few new boards.

Check your outdoor lights to see if any are broken and/or need new bulbs.

Some of the “garden art” needs to be adjusted, straightened, or moved.  Some of it I will toss because I am tired of it.

Clean the Deck and Outdoor Furniture

Wash and rinse the deck | How To Get Your Garden Ready For Spring
Wash and rinse the deck

Hose the pathways with water, and scrub and rinse the deck.

If you want an inexpensive and non-toxic deck cleaning solution that works really well, click HERE to find out what you need.

Wet the deck and scrub with a long handled brush | How To Get Your Garden Ready For Spring
Wet the deck and scrub with a long handled brush

Wet the deck first, scrub with a long handled deck brush and rinse very well with the hose.  Note: Do not clean your wooden deck with a power washer because the powerful spray will soften the wood and cause more rapid deterioration.

Commercial deck cleaners applied as per instructions also work well.

While the deck is drying, bring the deck furniture out of the garage and clean it with soap and water.  Also make note of any repairs…this year I have a plinth to paint and wood preservative to apply to the wooden chairs.

Getting the garden prep work out of the way means your garden will be ready when spring arrives | How To Get Your Garden Ready For Spring
Getting the garden prep work out of the way means your garden will be ready when spring arrives

All of these chores will get your garden in order and keep you busy until the weather is warm enough to start planting…and enjoying the spring flowers like this beautiful Magnolia!  My aim is to have these completed by the end of March.

Have comments or questions on how to get your garden ready for spring?  Tell us in the section below.

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