Are you a last-minute, don’t-plan-ahead, lazy gardener like me? Do you work full-time and feel a bit overwhelmed with your long To-Do list for your garden? Not sure where to start? Don’t worry! I’m here to help! Let me share my 10 quick steps to prepare your garden for Spring.
Here are the 10 quick steps to prepare your garden for Spring
1. Remove all old plants.
The first step is to remove all the clutter in your garden. Scan your garden, identify, and make a list of all your old plants, weeds, and dead leaves that are not benefiting your garden. Remove them all! Use your list to stay focused and tackle one small corner at a time. Scratch off each item (so satisfying) as you complete each task. This will give you a better idea of what needs to get done and give you better access to your garden. You will clear the clutter in no time! Plus, it makes for a great workout. Just remember to dig deep to get those deep roots. Using a weeding knife called Hori Hori can greatly help expedite this task.
2. remove dead annuals.
Annuals are flowers that flourish for one season and need to be replanted the following season. So, remove all your annual flowers that have lost their cheerful colors and looks. This includes zinnias, geraniums, or pansies. Removing your annuals will help clear up your garden and allow your soil to replenish and rebuild its nutrients.
3. Trim back all your perennials.
Perennials are plants that die back during the colder seasons and grow back when the weather warms up. So walk around your garden with a bag or basket and your favorite pruner or shear. Cut back your perennials as you walk around your garden. Collect everything you’ve cut off and place them in your bag or basket (to compost later).
This includes grass, flowers, trees, shrubs, and vegetables that you plan to overwinter. This step will help improve the overall appearance and shape of your garden. It will also allow your plants to focus their energy on developing a stronger root system, allowing them to grow healthier the following season.
4. Clean up and compost all plant materials.
Once you’ve collected all the plant trimmings, add them to your compost bin. If you don’t have a compost bin, you should consider purchasing one or making one. Compost has so many benefits in your garden. Everything you’ve trimmed from your garden can go into your compost bin. After a few months, all those plant materials will turn into BLACK GOLD!
5. Rototill your garden soil.
Now that you’ve cleared up your (in-ground) garden and removed old plant materials, you’re ready to use a rototiller on your soil. Over time, your soil will become compact and harder to work with. Rototilling your soil will help break up that compacted soil to make it easier for you to work with when Spring comes around again. Once your soil is nice and soft, this would be a great time to add organic materials to help nourish your soil and prepare it for your next round of plants.
If you are planting in a raised garden or containers, you can simply use a hand tiller, rake, cultivator, or fork to help break up the soil and mix in nourishments. If you can afford to, you can simply compost your old soil and fill up your containers or beds with new potting soil and amendments.
6. Check your soil’s pH.
With all the moving around in your garden, your soil structure and pH level will change. Therefore, it is important to check the pH level of each area of your garden before you commit your plants to those particular areas. You can use a soil pH meter or a soil test kit to find out what your soil’s pH level is. Most plants prefer slightly acidic soil, meaning the pH range should be between 6.0-7.0. If your soil level is over 7.0, it is too alkaline. If it is below 7.0, it is acidic. Adding garden lime will help amend your soil to become more alkaline. If you need to make it more acidic, add sulfur. Knowing your soil’s pH level will help you amend your soil accordingly.
If you don’t have a way to test your soil and are not sure what you need, visit your local nursery and purchase their pre-mixed soil amendment blend.
7. Add soil amendments.
Once you have confirmed the pH levels of your soil and have fixed them accordingly, it is time to add your soil amendments — compost, peat moss, worm casting, manure, or shredded leaves. Be mindful of how much soil amendments you’re adding to your soil. If you add too much, too quickly, you will throw off the pH level. All that hard work you put into balancing the pH level before… gone.
Once you SLOWLY add organic matter to your soil, it will help your soil build up its nutrients and get your garden beds ready for Spring gardening. It will also help your soil retain water and rain, allowing your future plants to grow stronger and healthier. The longer you allow your amended soil to sit and settle, the more prepared your garden will be for Spring.
8. START Planting your seedlings, seeds, and bulbs.
Now that your soil is prepped and settling, you can start planning your garden — what to grow and where to grow them. So pull out your seeds and bulbs and start planting them (indoors) based on their package instructions. Most plants can be grown indoors at first, then hardened and moved outdoors when the weather warms up. Be mindful of your last frost date as that will play a huge role in when you can start planting.
If you’re short on time or you don’t care to start your plants from seeds, you can always grab some seedlings/starter plants from your local nursery. Just remember to harden them before planting them in your garden.
9. Plant cover crops.
As your soil settles, you should NOT leave it as is. Otherwise, you will run the risk of having weeds grow and quickly take over your garden. To help prevent this, you should grow some cover crops. They will help prevent weeds from growing and prevent soil erosion. Cover crops are fairly short-lived and will die off once Spring comes around.
Examples of cover crops that can bring Nitrogen back to your soil are legumes, such as winter field beans and peas, clover, and vetch. If you have hard soil that needs a lot of help loosening, consider planting oats. Mustard and barley are also great cover crops.
10. Mulch. Mulch. Mulch.
The final touch to your (now) prepared garden is to add mulch. This will help prevent weeds from growing, keep garden pests from hiding their “treasures”, and keep your soil moist and protected during the colder season. Organic mulch can also benefit your soil because they provide nourishment as they decompose into your soil over time. Examples of organic mulch are wood chips, pine bark, fallen leaves, grass clippings, and straw. Mulch can also make your garden look more aesthetically pleasing.
Your garden is now prepped and ready for its hibernation. Hope you enjoyed my 10 quick steps to prepare your garden for Spring! Happy planting!
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Stay healthy. Stay Warm. Stay Safe.
Peace & Blessings to you all!
Bahry & Family
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