Ah yes, you’ve probably noticed the robins multiplying in the yard, those first hints of color as leaf buds tip the somber bare winter tree branches and the welcome turn of temperatures toward t-shirt weather. Spring has arrived, and, after months of cold lockdown made worse by Covid restrictions, you’re probably eager to get out in the yard and make things perfect for the garden party weather ahead. To make sure your garden is in perfect order, here is a checklist to get you started.
Make It Tidy
The first tasks of spring require a bit of clean-up from the mess leftover from winter. Before you start planting, you’ll want to do some of the following prep work:
● Rake away leaves and other detritus from garden beds.
● Clear away old mulch, particularly where used to winterize plants (be sure to wear garden gloves to protect your hands from prickly remnants and biting insects).
● Prune away dead growth and prune back trees and shrubs to prepare them for spring growth.
Prepare to Plant
Now that things are tidy, you can consider preparing for the planting tasks ahead.
● Test your soil to learn what nutrient deficiencies it may have, what composition of organic matter it contains, and to understand its PH.
● Amend your soil based on what you’ve learned from testing and refresh organic matter important for growth.
● Begin seeds that will need protection from the elements indoors so that they are ready to transfer to your beds when temperatures are more consistent.
● Pick a mix of cool weather vegetables, such as lettuces, peas, and potatoes that can be planted early.
● Divide perennials to encourage growth and so that centers don’t die, leaving bare patches.
Plant the Things You Love
The thing we most look forward to in spring is planting fresh new plants to round out bed designs and to enhance the perennials already in place.
● Plant your new trees and shrubs early enough to allow them to establish new roots before hot summer temps put them under stress.
● Plant new perennials and hardier annuals in early spring when cold snaps might still be a threat.
● Make a plan for more delicate annuals and have them ready for planting once the danger of cold weather has passed.
Repair the Area
We garden because we want to enjoy our outdoor spaces. The final step is thus to make sure the areas where we sit are in good shape as well.
● Check borders and replace worn paving stones, border bricks, raised bed containers, and broken pots.
● Clean outdoor furniture to remove mildew or dirt that has settled over winter.
● Wash out birdbaths and clean and fill bird feeders.
● Check hoses are in good working condition, and that nozzle attachments have not cracked over the winter.