Prep and Wait: Early Spring Garden Tips

This time of year can be frustrating for gardeners. A few pretty days with warm temperatures, and we’re all itching to get out and start planting things. But in many areas, a mid-spring freeze could wipe out a lot of hard work if you jump the gun.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your garden started. In fact, some plants love to take root in this time of year. It’s also a great time to do some of the garden prep that many of us leave until the last minute – and then hurry through.

Following are some early-spring garden tasks that not only allow you to get your hands dirty, but also help make your garden better all season.

  • Make a plan. When it comes time to plant, we often wait until we’re at the plant shop to make decisions about what to put in the garden. Start planning now. In addition to giving you a head start on your garden, the process will help you make it through the final weeks of spring.
  • Prepare your soil. This is the perfect time to spade and till your ground to get it ready for planting. You can also feed the soil with compost, add peat moss where needed and make other necessary amendments to help your plants grow.
  • Prepare pots and raised beds. Refresh the soil in pots from last year, repair and refresh raised bed gardens, or even build new ones. Start now, and you’ll be ready to plant when the weather warms up.
  • Clean up perennials. Cut back perennials and ornamental grasses that are still standing from last season, leaving about three inches above the ground.
  • Plant cool-season annuals. Put those pansies, lobelia and violas out to add color to the landscape.
  • Plant cold-loving vegetables. Put in onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other cold-weather veggies now.
  • Divide and transplant perennials. If you have perennials that are overgrown or simply could stand to be moved, now is the time.
  • Keep out the critters. If your area features rabbits or other animals that like tender green things, protect young, emerging plants with cages or safe deterrent sprays.

A lot of gardeners see early spring as a time of frustrating anticipation, but if you use this time to prepare, you’ll find that things go easier once you are able to get into the garden for real. A little patience can pay off, but a little prep can do even more.

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