Text by Hannah Jones
Spring is coming, but is your garden ready? Before you put that shovel into the dirt, be sure that your garden is in top shape to produce the best plants.
Organize your shed and tools
First things first, gather your materials together. Arrange your shed (Pro tip: This is easiest when you’ve made a list of things you wish you’d organized differently from the year before.) and clean those tools of any rust or residue that accrued over winter.
Clear out your beds
Remove dead branches, unwanted pests, and weeds from your garden beds, so they’re in the best shape for planting.
Prune, split, or cut back any plants that need it
Not all plants need pruning (see: Crepe Murder), but for those that do, get started now before the weather starts to warm up. Trimming your shrub’s branches will help them grow even more bountiful this year.
Clean drainage paths
This is a crucial step that is too often ignored. Nothing is more frustrating than your precious plants dying halfway through the season because the soil isn’t able to drain properly! Clean out any debris that might be clogging your drainage system, and do a test run to be absolutely sure that the path is clear. It’s a good idea to check on the system throughout the season, as well.
Prepare the soil
This step is especially important if you’re planning on planting anything new this year. Perform a soil test and check the pH levels. Different plants perform best in different conditions, and soil pH levels can even affect the colors of some flowers, such as hydrangeas. It’s best to be well-informed about your soil before going in with your shovel. Just be sure to wait until the soil is thoroughly loose and dry—the way you’d want it for planting.
Plan your planting
Not all plants need to go in the ground at the same time. Before you start purchasing anything new, create a calendar of what you need to plant when. The ideal timing will change depending on where you live, so it’s best to identify what planting zone you’re in before making your calendar.
Purchase your new plants
Now, for the fun part! Head to your local plant nursery and start buying. We’d suggest purchasing in stages based on the calendar you made.
Start any seeds you can indoors
Long winter? Don’t let that stop you from getting your garden going! Plenty of seeds can be started indoors, and most actually perform better when started inside. Use an old egg carton, old citrus peels, paper cups—almost anything will work for seed starters.
And if you want to go the extra mile, start a compost and/or rain container
This isn’t necessary, but for those living in a dry climate or looking to save some extra money, rain collectors and composters are simple and inexpensive solutions.