8 Spring Gardening Tasks You Should Do
It’s official, Spring has sprung! Time to get ready for the 8 spring gardening tasks you should do now to get your garden off to a good start. Now is the time to head outdoors to clean out and prepare your garden beds, do a little pruning and transplanting, repair hardscaping, and of course, start the growing season off right. Here are the 8 spring gardening tasks you should attend to now to launch the growing season successfully.
1. Start with a thorough inspection
Head out to the garden with a notepad. It’s time to see what happened in the garden while you were indoors all winter. Take note of:
- Damage on plants
- Flower or vegetable beds that will need to be cleaned out
- Hardscaping elements—walls, fences, benches, sheds, trellises—that have shifted, bowed, or show signs of wood rot
- Evidence of new animal burrows from skunks, squirrels, moles, voles, rabbits, or groundhogs. Also, note any deer or rodent damage on woody plants.
- Signs of snails
2. Do a spring cleanup
Maintaining good hygiene in your garden beds will help to keep pests and diseases at bay. Remove any plant debris such as fallen branches, matted down leaves, last year’s perennial foliage, ornamental grasses, and any annuals you didn’t remove last fall. If you have a pond or water feature remove any debris there as well. Don’t forget the birds. Scrub and sterilize your birdbath before putting it back out into the garden. A 1 part bleach/5 parts water solution should take care of any lingering diseases or insect eggs in your containers.
3. Attend to hardscaping repairs
Now is the time to repair damaged retaining walls, fix fences, benches, decks, sheds, trellises, window boxes, raised beds, level out your stepping stones, or create new gravel pathways. Early spring is also a good time to plan for and build new raised gardens and make changes to existing ones. When temperatures allow, add a fresh coat of paint, stain, or sealant to any hardscaping elements made of wood. Make all trellises are sturdy and apply a fresh coat of paint if needed. If you grow peonies, delphiniums, or any other perennials that require support, set them out now or get them ready to go. Trying to wrangle tender peony stems into a peony ring is tough work once their leaves have unfurled.
4. Test your garden soil and amend
Here is something most gardeners I know never do. It is recommended to test your garden soil every 3-5 years to see what nutrients or organic materials it needs and which it has too much of. You might learn, for example, that your soil is very high in phosphorous, so you would avoid adding fertilizers that contain a lot of it. Or you might find out your soil is naturally alkaline, and need to add aluminum sulfate around your evergreens and acid-loving shrubs like hydrangeas. Test your soil in several places. Soil test kits can be purchased at most nurseries and detailed instructions on how to collect and submit your soil sample are available on your State’s Extension Service website.
Once you know what your garden soil needs, consult with someone at your local garden center about what products to use and follow package instructions for best results.
5. Prune back damaged plants
Start by pruning out anything that has been broken or damaged. Remove dead wood, too.
Follow the general rule that flowering shrubs which bloom on new wood (this year’s growth) can be trimmed in spring. This includes summer flowering shrubs like butterfly bush, smooth hydrangea (H. arborescens), panicle hydrangea (H. paniculata), potentilla, rose of Sharon, and roses. Their flower buds will be set on the new flush of growth that appears after you prune it.
Spring is also a good time to shear back evergreens like boxwood and arborvitae once their initial flush of new growth has finished emerging.
DO NOT prune early flowering shrubs and those that bloom on old wood (last year’s stems) like azalea, forsythia, lilac, quince, ninebark, and weigela in spring. If you do, you’ll risk cutting off this year’s flower buds. You might not be able to see them, but they are there, so resist the urge to prune.
6. Divide perennials and transplant shrubs
In early spring when they are just beginning to pop up, you can divide and transplant any perennials that have outgrown their space or grown large enough to split. In most cases, it’s best to divide and move perennials in the opposite season of when they bloom. That means moving summer and fall-blooming perennials in spring, and spring-blooming perennials in fall. This avoids disrupting their bloom cycle.
Evergreen shrubs can be moved in early spring before their new growth appears or in early fall to give them enough time to re-establish their roots before winter. Deciduous shrubs can be moved almost anytime they are not in bloom and the weather is mild, but generally, spring and fall are the preferred seasons for transplanting. If you move them while they are dormant, there will be less stress on the plants and they will be more likely to spring back into action quickly.
7. Plant your spring containers and borders
Though most annual flowers need the soil to warm up a bit before planting, some cool weather-loving plants like pansies, nemesia, and osteospermum daisies won’t mind if you plant them in the garden early. You can plant your spring containers with sweet alyssum, lobelia, and Supertunia petunias, too. For most other annuals, it’s a good idea to wait until the temperatures warm up a little more. What is available in your local nursery is usually a good indicator of what can be planted now.
8. Don’t forget your lawn
Spring is the time to get your lawn in optimal shape and ready for the summer season. Early spring lawn care ensures a fresh-looking, healthy lawn for the summer months that you can enjoy. This includes sharpening your mower blades, removing debris from your grass, aerating and overseeding, fertilizing, and making sure your irrigation system is performing well. When it comes to early spring lawn care, you can either take care of your lawn yourself or hire a professional to do it.
We hope that these 8 spring gardening tasks will help you get your garden off to a good start so you can enjoy your garden all year long. Keep coming back for more useful information for all of your gardening tasks.