Expert Tips to Get Your Yard and Garden Ready for Spring
If you love the smell of fresh soil, the sight of new growth poking through the ground and the scent of just-opened blossoms, you probably start dreaming of spring long before the first warm rays of the new season arrive. You also know that a beautiful garden doesn't happen on its own, so once the ground is ready to work, it's time to start preparing your yard and garden for the exuberant growth of spring.
Stella Otto, the Backyard Fruit Gardener; Alysia Sebastiani of Reynolds-Sebastiani Landscape Design Services; and Pablo Solomon, a landscaper, designer and artist in Texas, share their expert tips for getting your yard ready for spring.
General Garden Care
- Clean Debris: Clean up any winter debris. Remove any broken or damaged branches on shrubs and trees.
- Prune Greenery: Early spring is pruning time for many trees, including fruit trees, and also shrubs and rosebushes.
- Aerate the Soil: Solomon recommends aerating the soil in the spring. For a small garden, a hand aerator is sufficient, but if you have a big yard, plan to rent an aerator that tows behind your riding lawnmower.
- Spread Compost: Spread compost throughout your garden to increase soil fertility. Sebastiani says a 1-inch layer of organic compost encourages worm activity, helps control weed growth and encourages the growth of healthy soil fungi that help plant roots absorb nutrients.
- Cover with Mulch: To keep the yard looking tidy, as well as provide a clean walking surface, cover the composted areas with decorative mulch. Shredded bark, pine needles and straw are all common mulches that look good and benefit the health of your garden.
- Check Your Tools: If you didn’t oil and clean garden tools before putting them away for the winter, do it now. Sharpen pruners, saws and loppers for best performance.
- Check Your Watering System: Inspect hoses and drip lines for leaks or cracks. Make sure all of your sprinkler heads and valves are in good condition.
- Prepare Fountains: If you have fountains, get them ready for spring. Clean out winter debris, prime the pump and fill the reservoir with clean water.
Fruit and Vegetable Gardening
- Choose the varieties of vegetables and fruits you want to plant based on your family’s preferences, your climate and your sun exposure. Popular vegetables to plant in the spring include lettuce, carrots, radish, peas, onion and spinach.
- Buy new fruit trees, bushes or vines. Otto recommends planting fruit trees and bushes while they are dormant to minimize transplant shock.
- Work plenty of organic compost around your fruit trees and throughout the soil in your vegetable garden area.
- Use a rototiller or shovel to break up the soil and remove large clods.
- Start tender vegetable seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost date for your area. If you live in a mild-winter area, you can safely plant seeds directly in the ground once any danger of frost is past.
- Take your lawn mower in for servicing. Have the blades sharpened and the oil drained and replaced.
- Rake away any winter debris, and work the rake through any matted or clumped patches of grass.
- Sebastiani likes to spread a layer of composted grass clippings over the entire lawn. This feeds the lawn, encourages a healthy earthworm population and suppresses weed growth.
- Though early fall is the best time for overseeding or planting a new lawn, if your grass is in terrible shape, go ahead and plant new grass after the last frost date for your area, but before mid-April.
- Bring out any tender perennials that were safely overwintered in your garage or basement.
- Plant summer blooming bulbs such as irises, lillies, gladioli, dahlias, fressias and anemones.
- Plant your late spring and summer blooming annuals. Sebastiani prefers to stick with single color drifts of flowers, rather than mixed colors in your borders.
- Sow wildflower seeds for a beautiful summer display.
- If you stored your pots away for the winter, it’s time to bring them out and fill them with quality potting soil.
- Plant flowers for late spring and summer display. Some beautiful choices that do well in containers are ivy geraniums, begonias, coleuses, petunias, marigolds, zinnias, sweet alyssums and snapdragons.
If you love to garden, early spring is a busy time in the backyard. By thoroughly preparing your yard now, you can ensure a beautiful display of flowers, a bountiful harvest of vegetables and fruits and healthy, green trees, shrubs and lawn later in the season.