Getting your garden ready for Spring

Posted on March 2, 2016 by Brynna Gabrielson

Garden toolsThe good news is that Spring is on the horizon! It's time to say goodbye to those short and cold winter days, and get ready to welcome hours of extra daylight and steadily warmer temperatures! We don't know about you, but one of our favourite parts of Spring is getting outside and spending time in our gardens. But after a winter of neglect, there's much to do to get our gardens ready for Spring! So here are a few steps you can take to get ready to begin planting!

Make sure your tools are in shape
Now is a great time to make sure all of your tools - from shovels and rakes, to hoses and watering cans - are up to scratch. You'll want to take stock of everything you have and make sure nothing is missing or broken - if so you may want to replace. Next you'll want to make sure your tools are clean. If they are a bit dirty you should give them a thorough wash and ideally moving forward you should clean them after each use to prevent rust, maintain sharpness, and stop the transfer of diseased molecules1. If you find some of your tools are sporting a layer of rust, make sure to clean them as best you can, and then once dry have a go at removing the rust using steel wool or a wire brush. You may also want to use a metal file or sharpening stone to sharpen edges.

Clear the winter layer
If you've not kept your garden tidy over winter you'll probably find a layer of debris has collected. You'll need to clear this away, as well as any dead annuals left over from last season. You'll also want to pull up any weeds that may have grown during the winter months.  A great way to dispose of all this waste and put it to good use is to create your own composting heap. For some advice on composting check out this article from the Royal Horticultural Society. 

Prepare your perennials
If you didn't cut them back in the autumn, then now is a good time to trim back the dead stems on your perennials to make way for new growth. You may even find, especially with the warmer winter we've had, that some new growth has already begun.

Work your soil
One of the most important ways you can prepare your garden for spring is to make sure your soil is ready for planting. First off you need to make sure your soil is dry enough, if your soil is too wet and heavy your plants will suffer for it.  To see if your soil is ready, grab a handful and squeeze it in your palm so it forms a ball. If the ball breaks apart when dropped from about waist height, it's ready to go. If it doesn't break up, give it some more time.

When your soil is dry enough it will need to be aerated, so make sure to get your trowel in there and start churning it up. To increase the nutrients in your soil you may also want to work in some manure or compost.

Plan things out
Before you start planting it's a good idea to make a plan for what you're going to grow and where. Especially if you have issues like a bad back that might make some gardening activities difficult.  If you have trouble bending over, for example, you may want to look into raised beds. Or if a certain plant is going to require maintenance, plant them closer to the edge of your garden so you won't have to reach so far. For more tips on gardening with a bad back, check out this article: Now your garden can thrive, even when you have a bad back