Winter is the perfect time of year to prepare your garden for spring. In fact, what you do during these winter months will determine just how splendid of a spring your garden enjoys.
In this article, we'll reveal how to prepare your garden for spring, from removing pesky weeds to picking out perennial plants.
While doing this dirty work isn't always fun, every gardener knows that preparing for spring is well worth it. After all, the warmer months are what we gardeners look forward to all year. But to truly enjoy it, we've got to set ourselves up for success before early spring even begins.
So get a head start on a glorious spring: inventory everything, get your soil ready, start a compost pile, make repairs to your yard, and deal with those dreaded pests. Clean out your greenhouse. And have a little fun, too! Buy some garden decor, take on a DIY project, and make your garden uniquely yours.
Without further ado, here are twelve tried-and-true ways to get your outdoor space prepared for spring:
1. Inventory everything
Want to get your garden into shape for spring? You're going to need a lot of stuff! By taking stock of what you have on hand, you'll be able to make a thorough shopping list for all your spring needs.
Use your inventory list to shop, but also to streamline your spring prep for years to come. Just think about how much easier next year will be if you can skip this step!
Here are just some of the things you'll need to count and audit:
The winter months are the perfect time to inventory, clean, sharpen and replace garden tools. Most gardeners stock their sheds with gloves, pruning shears, a garden fork, loppers, a hand trowel, a spade, a rake, a garden hose, a hoe, a wheelbarrow and a watering can. Of course, your needs may vary based on your garden size, climate and how much help you get from your gardener.
You can buy gardening tools online or at your local nursery. You may also want to consider buying a tool box and tool belt for easy storage and usage.
To clean out flower beds, greenhouses and more, you'll need the right supplies and equipment. This includes a non-toxic detergent to remove moss, algae, grime and lingering pests. Spray bottles, old Tupperware and giant buckets also come in handy.
While we'll elaborate on this later, you'll also want to make a list of everything you want to add to your garden this spring. Yes, it's time to start thinking about spring planting now! From soil to mulch to seedlings, make a wish list of perennial plants now!
2. Make sure your soil is workable
Ensuring your soil is workable is probably the most important step in preparing your garden for spring. Here's everything you need to know about healthy, workable soil for successful gardening.
What does workable soil mean?
Workable soil is soil that's just-right for planting and cultivating. That means the soil is not too wet and not too dry. Working soil when it is wet can cause serious damage to its structure. On the other end of the spectrum, working soil that's too dry will render is useless.
Either way, this less-than-ideal soil can take years to recover. And no gardener wants that!
To determine whether your soil is good to go, squeeze a clump of it into a little ball. If the ball falls apart easily, it's workable soil! If the soil remains firm, it's still too damp.
How do I prepare workable soil?
Most soil is naturally pretty workable in late winter and early spring, but not always.
Many people attempt to boost soil's fertility by adding compost to their dirt. Compost, which is a collection of organic waste like apple cores and coffee grounds, offers a nice blend of nitrogen and carbon and will help fertilize soil.
Another option is a mulch pile full of plant clippings, mowed grass and straw. As your mulch pile grows, work the plant materials into your soil slowly. Keep in mind it can take months for these plant clippings to decompose, so you'll want to start collecting in the fall for good results in the spring.
You could also consider an organic fertilizer for your soil.
If you don't work with a gardener, the best person to talk to about workable soil is a green-thumbed, friendly neighbor or whoever helps you at your local nursery. These gardeners understand the local soil and climate way better than anyone else, so use them as resources!
3. Remove dead annuals, cut back plants and more
Ah, yes. The dirty work. Preparing your garden for spring is no cake walk, and removing dead plants, weeds and other unwanted growth is no exception. But clearing out old growth is how all successful gardeners make room for new plants and other beautiful additions to their spring gardens!
One weekend in late winter, put on your gardening gloves and start removing any plants you know won't grow back. While it's sad to see annuals go, it must be done. Same goes for any other plants, shrubs, trees, dead leaves or flowers that won't be making a comeback. Weeds, too, should be cut back.
You can add all of these items to your mulch pile, if you'd like. (Except weeds!)
4. Create a compost heap
A compost heap is a great way to fertilize your garden while reducing waste. Every time you cut up an apple, peel a banana, dice an onion or brew a cup of coffee, you can place these items into a compost pile instead of dumping them in the trash.
Not only will you contribute less refuse to landfill, but your soil, plants and the rest of your spring garden will thank you!
If you'd like, you can combine your food compost and your gardening pile into one big heap. A large compost bin can be purchased online if you need the storage space.
You can learn more about creating a compost heap here. If this (rather laborious) process is just too much for you, start small. Gather leftover bits and pieces of produce from your kitchen, let the refuse decompose, and work it into a small amount of soil. As you grow more confident, you may wish to take on more.
5. Select summer bulbs and seeds
Okay, now the fun part! Time to choose seeds and bulbs for all the gorgeous spring and summer plants you want to grow this year. These are the plants you'll nurture in spring for a great, summer bloom.
Not sure where to start? Browsing an online catalog is always a good idea. You can also try a local gardening forum online, chat with your favorite employee at your nursery, or consult an old-fashioned almanac.
Our Happy Gardens team has literally never met a plant it didn't like, but our summer favorite is probably the fragrant, romantic and timeless lily. We also love a good begonia!
We've also been known to drive around our neighborhood looking for inspiration in other people's gardens. For best results, pay close attention to the gardens that have similar sun exposure to yours.
Need more inspiration? Here are ten great summer-flowering bulbs you can plant this spring.
6. Take care of your greenhouse
If you're lucky enough to own a greenhouse, then winter is a great time of year to tend to it and prepare it for growing season.
To ready your greenhouse for spring, you'll likely need to clear an entire day from your schedule. Here are some good tasks to take on:
- Clear out dead leaves and debris
- Clean all floors, glass and surfaces, especially where pests may linger
- Disinfect everything you use with hot, soapy water
- Purchase new soil, if necessary
- Inspect the interior and exterior for damage, and make any necessary repairs
7. Prepare to collect rainwater in early spring
Many gardeners like to collect early spring rainfall to use during growing season. There are a variety of ways to collect rainfall, so you'll have to pick the method that makes the most sense for you.
A large, prefabricated rain barrel can gather up for 50 gallons of water. And a cistern can hold even more. A downspout guides water directly to the canister, helping filter out debris, too. You can also buy a smaller barrel, or build one yourself out of pretty much anything.
Want to learn more about how to collect rainwater? Here's a great guide. Oh, and as a warning, collecting rainwater is highly regulated in some states, so please check state and local laws before you collect!
8. Give fences, trellises and gates some TLC
Next time the winter weather warms up just a little bit, why not spend the weekend making sure your fences, trellises and gates are in good shape. After all, a wet and windy winter can cause a lot of damage.
Replace any broken panels and rotted wood. Cut back weeds, too. Clean fences, trellises and gates where necessary.
Then, consider a fresh coat of paint to give your garden a clean, bright look for spring. You'll also want to check any latches or locks to ensure they're still in a working order. If you use chicken wire or anything else to keep animals in or out, you'll want to give that a quick audit, too.
9. Prepare your garden by addressing garden pests
However you choose to handle garden pests, winter is a great time to get a head start on keeping them under control.
We recommend locating and handling any hibernating pests now, before they cause any damage to your spring and summer blooms. Look closely at all of your plants for snails, slugs and any other pests. If you compost, you'll want to check for larvae, too.
If you aren't sure how to handle pests, talk to your neighbors, chat with other gardeners online or discuss it with the employees at your local nursery. While an exterminator can help you with insects inside the home, they're not always the most knowledgeable about gardening pests.
10. Add a little spring garden decor
There's a lot of hard work on this get-your-garden-ready-for-spring list, but you can have a little fun, too. Why not add a piece or two of unique garden decor to your outdoor space to celebrate the spring?
Whether you hit up a local antique shop or peruse our own Happy Gardens collection, we promise you won't regret adding something really beautiful to your outdoor space. From wind chimes to rain gauges to garden sculptures to bird houses, deciding how to decorate and beautify your garden is entirely up to you.
Not sure what to choose? A classic garden stake is always a good idea, and can really add texture and charm to any flower bed or grassy lawn. Our triple spinning heart, which is finished in a neutral flamed metal, brings subtle sweetness to your spring space.
11. Tidy up flower beds
If you haven't done so already, winter is the right time to prepare your flower beds for next season.
Start with a run-of-the-mill clean up. Loose leaves, organic matter... pick up any debris you find for a tidy, neat garden.
Then, clear borders and flower beds until there's nothing but bare soil visible. You can add anything you've cleared out to your mulch pile or compost bin, except weeds. Those should go in a brown bin designated for yard trimmings.
While you tidy your raised beds, you should also check the wood for any damage or rot. Now, when each raised bed is empty, is the best time to make repairs.
12. Take on a garden decor project
Finally, next time the winter weather is just dreadful, why not try a DIY garden decor project? Here are some DIY, budget-friendly outdoor projects you and your family can tackle:
- Create a garden path
- Make your own tin can lanterns
- Use paint to bring boring plant pots to life
- Paint rocks to mark what's growing in your garden
- Create a bird bath using an old chair and a plant pot
- Shop for gently used outdoor furniture to create a space you love
- Install some fabulous but inexpensive outdoor lighting
- Create your own funky wind chime
- Add a water feature to your front yard
Whether you take on a little project in your garden or a big one, adding unique touches to your outdoor space is always a good idea! And there's never a better time to enjoy your yard than sunny spring.
About Happy Gardens
Happy Gardens is your one-stop-shop for unique, high-quality garden decor. From wind chime to rain gauge, you'll find tons of pretty little things we've carefully selected to complement every kind of front yard, backyard and landscape style.
Our products look great in every style of home and garden, and at every time of year, but we love them a little bit more from March to June, when the Great Outdoors are at their best.
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