Spring Plant Care

Spring is right around the corner with the promise of sunny days, birds chirping, and your garden coming back to life from the winter hibernation. Your garden needs some assistance getting back in shape, though, so it’s time to get to work. Not only will you be helping to revive your garden but you will also be doing something healthy for your mind and body. Gardening is a great way to be physically active outdoors and the process can be soothing and therapeutic. Help yourself and your garden with some spring plant care tips for getting your backyard and water garden green and beautiful by the time the season reaches its peak:

 

Early Spring

Clean out the garden and pond and check your supplies. It’s time to clean your garden and pond and remove all the debris (leaves, branches, leftover snow, etc.) Get rid of weeds, making sure that you get the roots so they won’t grow back. This is also a good time to sharpen or get new garden tools, if needed, because they are required for plant maintenance and soil care.

Prep the beds and revitalize the soil. Because your soil is likely dried out and packed after winter, it’s time to add moisture. Remove winter mulch or, if well composted, work into the top layer of the soil. Add organic material like leaf mold, compost, or well-rotted manure. Test the soil to see what nutrients it lacks, so you make sure to add the right mixture. More fertilizer may be needed to enhance the health of the soil and increase your plants’ lifespan. In addition to fertilizers and organic materials, you should think about adding mulch to your flowerbeds, garden, and area surrounding your pond. For weed and disease prevention, add one to three inches of mulch. It also keeps the moisture in the garden and maintains the temperature. The rule of thumb is to keep the mulch a few inches from the plant stems to prevent roots from rotting.

Prune. Plants that endured the winter will need to be pruned so they’ll freshly grow in the spring. Wait until mid-April or May in case there’s an unexpected freeze. Blooming plants should be pruned before buds begin to break into bloom or you'll stress the tree and get a tiny crop (or possibly none). Summer plants should be pruned in early spring.

Divide perennials. A good time to divide many perennials is before plants have begun spring growth.

Perform basic maintenance. Check stonework for frost heaves. Check and clean the deck, pond, fountain, and other equipment now so you don't have to do it later and make any necessary repairs. 

Plant new flowers and shrubs. Once the garden is back in shape and you’ve handled all of the old plants, it’s time to add in some new plants. Some recommendations for good spring plants include:

  • Pansies
  • Snapdragons
  • Vegetables like lettuce, peas, arugula, onions, potatoes, and artichokes
  • Redbuds
  • Transplanting tomato plants from indoor pots to outside
  • Lilacs
  • Tulips

Leaning towards planting more perennials as opposed to annuals is more beneficial because annuals have to be replaced every year. This is not the most cost efficient investment because the plants will die every year and require replacement. Perennials, however, last for two to three years and usually survive winter frosts.

What about the rest of spring? Once you have completed your early spring garden maintenance, it’s time to plan ahead and decide what next to do with your garden. Some care is needed so it stays vibrant and beautiful throughout the season. Here are some suggestions for garden maintenance to execute the rest of the season:

 

Mid-Spring

Build new flowerbeds. This year, consider new flowerbeds and install complementary shrubs offering blooms throughout the season. 

Plant hardy annuals. Plant some hardy annuals in your garden. Sow seeds outdoors or transplant seedlings. 

Apply mulch. If you mulch now, you'll have next-to-no weeding come summer.

 

Late Spring

Deadhead bulbs. Remove spent blossoms from spring-flowering bulbs and let foliage die back without removing it. 

Go shopping. Pick out flats of your favorite bedding plants and remember to pick ones not yet in bloom for stronger plants. 

Prune spring-flowering shrubs. Trim spent blooms and thin out branches that are too thick to rejuvenate older plants.

Once you have completed your plant spring care you will feel accomplished and have a beautiful place to relax and enjoy your garden!