Soon we’ll be back to spending afternoons outdoors in the sunshine, rather than inside looking through frosty windows at snowdrifts. There’s nothing better after a long winter than getting out of your home and into the fresh air.
And the best way to enjoy that spring air when it returns is to spend time in the garden. As winter comes to an end, it’s time to prep your yard for the upcoming season. Take advantage of these tips to ensure a strong and lush garden.
1. Order Seeds & Plants
You can start out by mapping out your garden before warmer weather arrives. Make a short list of the vegetables, fruits, or plants you are hoping to grow. Summer blooming flowers like lilies and gladiolus regrow early spring. Divide beds by spring and summer blooms. Also, make a note of those that will go straight in the garden and those that will start indoors.
In the fall, during perennial season, you can also dig and divide plants that are no longer blooming or have a dead center. Dead centers go into the compost pile. See below for more tips about composting. Add some compost to the site once you’re ready to replant.
2. Schedule Lawn Care
Lawn care in London, Ontario and other freezing areas can be especially tedious with tasks like dethatching. If you want to focus on the health of your garden, set up pre-scheduled lawn care for consistent upkeep. Then you can go back to your flowers and let the professionals handle the lawn.
3. Clear Bedding
Cut out dead areas of perennials and grass in the early spring. Remove leaves and other debris.
Once the soil is workable, add compost in four- to six-inch layers and work into a planting bed. Work the soil when it’s moist. Pick up a handful of soil and squeeze it, if the soil remains a ball in your hand and then breaks apart when tapped, it’s a great time to work on the soil.
4. Sprout Seedlings Indoors
Most perennial flowers along with veggies like broccoli will need to start indoors. If your growing seasons are short, it’s also a good idea to sprout seeds inside. For any seed packets without instructions, start the seeds six weeks before planting outside.
Knowing when the last frost date occurs can also be helpful with sources like this where you can look up the dates by zip code.
Keep in mind too if you keep plants in an area indoors cooler than 70 degrees Fahrenheit they will grow slower. Conversely, heat promotes growth if you plant in a heated room or a greenhouse. In that case, start growing a week later or you may have some plants ready to make the garden in spite of the current weather.
5. Clean Greenhouse/Tools
Spring cleaning also applies to greenhouses. In the coldest months, pests and diseases appreciate the protection of being in a greenhouse. The most common greenhouse invaders include slugs, mildew, and aphids.
Remove old plant materials, check under leaves of plants, and verify no weeds or leaves are hiding under benches. Sweep out the debris and temporarily remove all pots, tools, and benching for any bug entry.
Apply a disinfectant with natural ingredients throughout and clear out any grime between glass panes. Thoroughly wash all pots and seed trays to keep them disease free. Then ventilate the greenhouse for the next few days, so everything properly dries.
If you already have a compost pile set up for soil, you can also dig up that up annually and replace old compost.
6. Set Up Composting
If you don’t have a composting pile set up, now is a better time than ever. As you remove older plant materials any that are disease free, they can go straight to your compost pile. To build your first compost pile, first, you’ll need to figure out the location in your yard.
It will need to have easy water access and an area that receives moderate sunlight so it doesn’t completely dry out. If you have the room, build two or three bins into your composting system so you can always move into another clean, cured bin.
Some of the things that go into compost bins include:
- Vegetable and fruit scraps from the garden and kitchen
- Grass clippings
- Tea bags and coffee grounds
- Untreated wood
- Dead leaves, branches, pine cones, and needles
A good rule of thumb for materials in a compost bin is a 2:1 ratio of wood, leaves, cardboard and other brown products to vegetables and other foods.
In the fall you can gather leaves for mulch. Shred them down with a mulching mower, shredder, or leaf blower on the vacuum setting. If the leaves are too thick, they can block air and water from reaching the ground or can gather moisture leading to fungal diseases and rotting plants. For insulation in the winter, add brown layers to your compost pile in winter to keep heat inside of it.
Soon you’ll be out enjoying the fruits of your labors in the summer sunshine, so make sure you get all your prep work for your garden done now.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and buy the product, I will receive a very small commission of the sales price at no cost to you.
See also: 5 Ways to Upgrade Your Garden