Can't Wait To Start Gardening This Spring? Here's What To Do First When You Get Back In The Garden
There's nothing quite like the excitement of the first warm spring day when you can get out into the garden and dig your fingers into the soil.
I'm sure it's not just me. I even think weeding is fun in the springtime.
As the weather starts to get warmer, the number of things we can do in the garden quickly goes from famine to feast. In the winter there wasn't much to do other than transplant and prune dormant trees and shrubs. Now you're weeding, planting, and preparing for the rest of the growing season.
All the gardening stuff to do in the spring can quickly get overwhelming. Or you might get so distracted by one task that you forget to do something else. But not any more! Here are 7 tips to help you figure out what tasks to do first when you get back into the garden.
Tip 1) Start Prepping The Soil
Before you plant anything, you'll need to get the soil ready. You can work garden soil whenever it's not frozen and it's not too wet. To determine if the soil is ready to work, pick up a handful and squeeze it. There should be no ice crystals in the soil and it should be damp enough to stick together but not so wet it turns into a muddy lump.
Before you till, remove any dead weeds or plants from last year that are too large or woody to till into the soil. You'll also want to add an organic amendment like compost to improve soil texture and fertility. Spread a layer of compost 3 to 6 inches deep over the soil surface, then work it into the soil when tilling.
Tip 2) Fix Hardscaping Issues
Growing plants aren't the only part of your garden that needs some attention in the spring. Before you start putting in new plants, you'll want to fix any hardscaping issues that have come up. Spring is the perfect time to repair damaged retaining walls and raised beds, install or maintain walkways, and fix damage to fences, benches, decks, and trellises.
Tending to your hardscaping first lets you work while most plants are still dormant, so there's less risk of damaging the garden. It also gives you a better idea of what the “bones” of your garden look like that you'll be planting around. As a finishing touch, use an edger or bed-redefining tool to clean up the edge of your gardens.
Tip 3) Plant Things That Can Handle The Cold
Even though the temperature in the Dallas-Fort Worth area has been above freezing lately, our last freeze date isn't until March 13. And that's just the last date you can expect a hard freeze. There's still a risk of frost up until early April.
This means that in late winter and early spring you'll only want to grow plants that can survive a frost. This includes vegetables like onions, carrots, turnips, broccoli, cabbage and leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, and kale. You can also plant cool-weather flowers like pansies, violas, flowering kale, cyclamen, dianthus, petunias, and alyssum.
Tip 4) Clean Up Lawn and Garden
Early spring is the best time to cut-back perennial plants and ornamental grasses. Prune most perennials back to 4-5 inches tall and grasses to 2-3 inches tall. Make sure you rake dead foliage and leaves out of the flowerbeds. Leaving dead foliage on the garden can smother plants or encourage the growth of molds and diseases.
Don't forget the lawn while you're cleaning up. As the weather warms, start out your spring lawn care by raking to fluff-up grass leaves and remove debris. This can also be a good time of year to aerate, depending on what kind of grass is in your lawn. For cool-season grass, late fall is best but you can do it in early spring. For warm-season grass, wait until late spring.
Tip 5) Get On Top Of Weeding
If you plan to use herbicides on your lawn and garden, you can start applying a pre-emergent herbicide when the top 1 inch of soil has stayed above 55 degrees Fahrenheit for five days in a row. Just remember that these types of herbicides prevent all seeds from sprouting. If you're planning to re-seed the lawn or plant any flowers and vegetables from seed skip the pre-emergents.
If there aren't already plants in the area where you're working, you can spread a clear plastic sheet over the soil after tilling. Leave it in place for a few sunny days and the heat from the sun will burn-off any weed seeds in the soil. This process is called solarization and it gives you a weed-free start to your spring planting.
Tip 6) Mulch Garden Beds
Weeding and then mulching garden beds and borders in the early spring is a chemical-free way to help control weeds for the rest of the year. Mulch also helps keep the garden healthy by holding moisture into the soil and shading plant roots during the hot summer months.
To use mulch to control weeds, you'll want a layer of mulch that is at least 2 inches thick over the whole garden. Make sure the mulch isn't right up against the base of plants and shrubs. You'll also want to leave several inches of space between mulch and tree trunks. Placing layers of standard newspaper under organic mulches (such as compost or shredded leaves) can help control weeds more effectively.
Tip 7) Tune-Up Your Equipment
If you want to prep your lawn and garden equipment for spring success, then it's time for a tune-up. Spring's a great time to perform routine maintenance like checking and cleaning/replacing spark plugs and filters. You'll also want to replace or sharpen worn cutting blades on lawn mowers and trimmers.
If you run into any trouble starting your equipment, bring it in to see us. Richard Saw and Lawnmower has a highly-qualified team of service professionals to get your equipment up and running again as quickly as possible. We can also handle any routine maintenance you'd rather not do yourself. Don't have the equipment to sharpen mower blades? We'll do it for you. Want an expert eye to look over your electrical system? Bring it on in for a tune-up. We're more than happy to help.