Much like a Hollywood actor posing on the red carpet, the best gardens may not look like they require much upkeep and are simply “born this way”. While the perfect garden does require a certain amount of maintenance and vigilance, getting out early in Spring and making sure everything is in order will save you a lot of work as the year goes on and will leave you more time to enjoy your garden. We’ve put together a little checklist of things you can do in Spring to get your garden ready.
Whether you have a shed full of gas-powered tools or just own a set of 3 hand tools, now is a good time to take inventory. Sharpen mower blades, drain and replace fuel and top off oil. Take them in for a tune up if it’s been a while and they could use the extra care. Sand off any rust on your pruning tools, and oil and sharpen them. Your local hardware store may be able to help you if this is beyond your own capabilities.
Edge your beds
A good edge is the foundation stone upon which any great garden is built. Whether your garden is professionally designed or you have simply accumulated plants over the years, a fresh, straight cut around the edge of your garden will add a sense of structure and organization to it. It is best to get a specialized edging tool to really get your edge looking as crisp as possible. A pre-emergent herbicide sprinkled lightly into the edge is a good way to prevent seed germination and keep your edge looking perfect for longer.
Rake the lawn
Your garden bed can collect all sorts of debris over winter even if you did a good job cleaning it last fall. A winter’s worth of wind and snow can bring anything with them so it is important to rake up anything that is going to hinder plant growth. Matted leaves under and around shrubs can be left to be mulched-over provided they are in moderate amounts. You should definitely rake leaves off your lawn. Any leaves you are not leaving in your garden bed can be added to your compost pile.
This is the part most people don’t like but if you do it early and often, it is a very simple job. When you let the weeds take over is when you start to have problems and it becomes a difficult task rather than a short and enjoyable part of garden maintenance. There are two good reasons to weed now. The first is that the weeds are small and the soil is soft so they are easier to pull. The second reason, they have not yet gone to seed so weeds will not multiply as quickly. Collect any twigs and sticks in your beds and around your lawn and you will start to feel better about your garden already.
Fertilize the garden
Add fertilizer to your garden bed around trees, shrubs and perennial flowers. Be careful not to over-fertilize – a light sprinkle around the base of each shrub will do the trick. For perennials, shake fertilizer lightly into the soil around the plants. Work fertilizer into the soil several inches deep for annuals (when they are ready to be planted). If you haven’t fertilized your soil in a long time or ever, it is a good idea to get a soil test.
Prune and clip
Clip off the browned and dead foliage from your perennials to make way for new growth. Dig and divide any perennial flowers that are growing beyond where you would like them to be. Replant them as quickly as possible and water them well. If you are not replanting, it can be nice to give them to friends or just add them to your compost pile. Prune any broken or dead branches from your trees or shrubs leaving a smooth cut, where possible.
Plan to Plant
It might seem like a simple one but one of the most exciting parts of having a garden is planting some annuals to add an extra little pop of color. Decide where you would like to plant and how many you would like. Annuals generally require a little extra work throughout the year so be sure not to over commit. They benefit from frequent fertilizer applications and will need to be watered almost daily during the summer.