Prepare your garden for spring growth. ATTRIBUTION:  Jan Fidler (Flickr)

Prepare your garden for spring growth. ATTRIBUTION: Jan Fidler (Flickr)

It’s nearing the end of the cold season, but it’s just the beginning of spring. As the weather warms, take the time to prepare your beds and choose new flowers and/or produce to grow in the upcoming year. Don’t start the process too early, as melting snow and excess spring rain can cause the soil to become compacted. Wait until the soil is relatively dry and breaks easily when formed into a ball before you begin preparing your garden for spring. Here are some tips to help prep your garden for the new season.

Spring-Clean Your Garden

One of the first tasks you’ll want to perform in your garden is a post-winter cleanup. As the temperature rises, weeds will begin to pop up rapidly. Keep weeds at bay by using pre-emergent weed control to get rid of the pesky growths before they germinate. Remove any winter mulch and replace it with fresh mulch to help the plants better conserve moisture.

Loosen the Soil

Plants grow better in soil that is loose than soil that is compacted due to heavy snow and excessive water during the winter. Take the time to loosen the soil at the beginning of spring to incorporate air into the dirt. As you loosen the soil, add organic material throughout to help ensure a more bountiful harvest. Remember to dig deep, as most plants require at least six to eight inches of depth for their roots.

Sow Your Seeds

Seeds that require a lengthier growing season may need to be sowed in January or February to prepare them for spring. Examples of plants that may need to be sowed early include geraniums, eggplant, begonias, and peppers. Sow the seeds according to the instructions on the packet and place them in a heated propagator to help ensure maximum growth.

Plant Hardy Vegetables

Early spring is a great time to plant hardy, cold-tolerant vegetables, such as potatoes, onions, artichokes, and some species of lettuce. Many of these veggies can be planted about a month before your location’s average last spring frost date. Add instant color to your vegetable garden with vibrant selections such as red-leaf cabbage.

Grow Fruit After the Frost

Wait to plant your fruit trees until after the last frost. Choose an area that offers the trees good air circulation, as moisture can contribute to the spread of disease. Fruit trees require a lot of sun to be productive and healthy, so choose a location that is sunny for the majority of the day. There are many options to choose from, from trees to shrubs and smaller plants, including melons, papayas, raspberries, blueberries, avocado, strawberries, and cherries.

Prune Spring Shrubs

During late spring, prune any spring-flowering shrubs, including dying or damaged blooms and too-thick branches. Some shrubs that should be pruned soon after flowering include redtwig, lilac, weigela, mock orange, and deutzia. Before you prune, examine the plant carefully and visualize what will remain. Use a good set of pruning shears, not hedge shears, to create new growing points on the shrub.