As winter slowly melts away, the days get longer and warmer, and you catch yourself daydreaming about midsummer evenings spent idling in your blossoming garden. You imagine the soft hues and sweet aromas, until suddenly, you awake to harsh reality: arousing your garden from its wintery slumber will be hard work!
But preparing your garden for spring doesn’t have to be arduous. These three basic steps will get your outdoor space in order by springtime, so that it’s ready to be enjoyed by the summer.
Step 1: Spring Clean Flower Beds & Borders
Begin by clearing away fallen leaves and debris that have consumed your garden throughout the winter. Sure, you attempted to do this at the end of autumn so it would be easier by spring, but as winter’s icy winds settled over your shivering plants, you gave up. Now, you’ll find that tidying up your yard is the way to get back into the gardening spirit.
Avoid using a heavy rake as it will potentially destroy the delicate perennials under the surface, which you want to bloom over the spring and summer. Rather, use your hands to clear away the debris.
Once your garden has completely thawed out, you can begin cutting away the remaining stems from annual and biennial plants using pruning clippers. This will create space in the soil for new growth.
Step 2: Remove Weeds
By the summer, you’ll be grateful that you spent the time removing weed rootstock from your garden soil before spring, as weeds are resilient and able to germinate quickly, particularly at lower temperatures.
Use a hand fork or long-handed weeding tool to uproot the weeds’ roots. Ensure you get rid of everything, as perennial weeds can grow again from the smallest bits remaining in the soil. To remove annual weeds, pull the tops from the roots before they produce seeds. Additionally, make sure to loosen compacted soil, which can be a haven for weed rootstock.
Step 3: Prep Your Soil
It’s true that the secret behind a thriving garden is healthy soil. However, it is possible to make the mistake of working on the soil too early. Wait until the earth has dried out from the thawed ice, snow, and spring showers before working on it. This is because plants grow better in soil that has air pockets, so you want to avoid compacting it and removing beneficial trapped air.
To test if the soil is dry enough, simply take a handful of soil and squeeze it together into a ball. If the ball can be broken easily with your fingers, then it is dry and ready for gardening.
After the soil has been tested and approved, begin to cultivate it. You do this by digging up patches of soil with a fork, turning it over and chopping it up. Work your way across your garden. Next, add compost you’ve created or composted manure. This will add nutrients to your soil. On the other hand, if you really want to be a gardening expert, have your local extension office prepare a soil test for you (most of the time they’re free!). For example, someone who lives in Columbus would use the Ohio State University Extension office according to LawnStarter.
These three basic steps will ensure your garden is in the best condition for growing season. On a warm summer evening, you’ll be able to sit back and unwind in the heart oasis, admiring your plants and flowers, and remind yourself that you are living the dream.