We’ve been ready to say goodbye to winter. And now — weather permitting — we finally can! The first official day of Spring 2018 is March 20 but, depending on where you live, it might not feel like the seasons have changed for a few more weeks. Depending on your climate, it may be too early to start planting, but it’s the perfect time to start planning for your perfect Spring garden.
If you like the thought of a yard filled with beautiful flowers and fresh veggies, here are some of our tried and trusted spring gardening tips.
Plan Before You Plant
The right time to plant depends on the weather, soil conditions and what you’re planting. Ask a local garden center professional or a local landscaping pro when the final frost of the season generally takes place. Some plants — like peppers and tomatoes — have a very low tolerance for cold and should only be planted after you’re certain the final frost has come and gone.
Other plants, like spinach, peas and ornamentals like pansies, can withstand some frost. There are also some less expensive bare root shrubs, roses and trees that can handle temperatures slightly under 32 degrees Faranheit.
When it comes to spring flowers, timing is everything. Talk with a few local gardening specialists to find out which blooming plants and shrubs tend to do well in your area. Using native or near-native species increases your odds of success and reduces the amount of work it will take to keep your plants thriving.
An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure — especially when it comes to spring gardening. Here’s what you should do to prepare for the season before you even get your hands dirty.
#1 Sharpen tools
Don’t wait to discover that your shovels, hoes and pruners are dull — go ahead and sharpen them now. Make sure your lawnmower’s blade is also nice and sharp. A dull blade won’t produce as clean of a cut, and it can also injure the turf and open the grass up to disease.
#2 Test your soil
Having your soil tested will tell you which fertilizers and soil conditioners will produce optimal results. Many local gardening centers offer a basic test for a nominal fee (usually around $25) that measures pH levels and the presence of trace organic materials. More advanced testing may be required if you’re planning to build on a site or if you suspect contamination has occurred. According to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide, professional soil testing typically costs in the range of $705 to $1,748.
#3 Till the soil
You can start digging a new garden bed when the soil no longer contains ice crystals and when it crumbles easily in your hands. When the ground is ready, dig it out about eight inches and remove stones and clods. Add no more than 1-1/14 inches of compost material (plus any other fertilizers or supplements your soil analysis recommends) and dig in evenly.
#4 Properly dispose of outdated chemicals
Discard outdated garden chemicals according to the instructions on their labels. This is also a good time to check the lock on your shed or chemical storage area to make sure it’s not accessible to kids and animals.
#5 Reach out to landscaping professionals
If you plan on bringing the pros in to help with your yard, contact them early in the season so you don’t end up on a waitlist.
If you have forsythia, lilac or similar early-flowering shrubs in your garden, plan on pruning them as soon the blooms start to fade. Next year’s flowers have already set within 10 days of the end of this season’s blooms, so if you don’t prune the fading blooms quickly enough, you may not see much flowering next season.
If you have many shrubs that need pruning or you suspect your trees and shrubs are diseased or have been damaged, contact a professional.