Here's a way to cure those winter blues - get out in the garden! Our spring gardening to-do list is the perfect way to satisfy your gardening obsession that's been growing as winter rolls along.
We know the feeling. As the winter season moves on, if you are an avid gardener like us, you can almost taste spring. It's in the air. The temperatures are getting warmer. The anxious feeling of finally getting outside after being cooped up during the cold winter months is really taking hold. You're giddy with the excitement of what's to come!
Well, we want to tell you that you can get outside now, or anytime really. There's always something to do. Check out our guide for winter gardening if you don't think there are gardening tasks to accomplish in the winter,
We want to provide you with this checklist of things you can do as spring creeps in - stuff that will give you a jump start on the season.
This is important because if you're like us, you have some extra time right now - before the gardens have actually come alive. I know that when the season gets into full swing, (or full spring lol), we get busy and some of the garden prep for spring doesn't happen. Why not get a head start before this happens?
So many of the tasks that should be accomplished can be done now so get started and satisfy that itch to garden before the season begins.
Here is our spring gardening to-do list, which is really not that long - details to follow...
- Garden Prep For Spring
- Power Equipment Maintenance
- Tool Maintenance
- Spring Fertilizer For Your Lawn
- Fix And/Or Maintain Broken Hardscapes
Let's get into each one of these in more details.
#1: Garden Prep For Spring
One of the biggest chores and probably the most obvious is getting your gardens in shape and cleaning them out.
I'm sure this is not news to you. Just looking around at your dead and barren landscape reminds you.
Garden clean up can involve several things:
Cut Back Perennials:
This task could have been done in the fall, after the growing season when perennials die back. However, if you're like us, you wait until spring to perform this task, and that's OK too.
Now's the time to remove the dead debris left by perennials that have died and also cut back any dead stems and foliage that are left over.
Depending on the harshness of the winter that just past, you may have more or less debris. For instance, in a mild winter, loriape, that common grassy plant may not turn brown and die. For us here in the mid-Atlantic of the US (planting zone 6-7), it's quite common for loriape to stay green the entire winter.
If you have hostas in your gardens, those have definitely died and left brown leaves. Remove them. Most of the time, they'll just pull right off - no pruning needed.
If you're winters are especially harsh, you may also have a bunch of dead tree branches or limbs that need to be removed.
Any other perennials that have remnants of last year's growth should be cut back. This includes plants such as cone flowers and black eyed susans that you might have kept standing during the winter for their winter bird food - the seeds help nourish birds during the winter.
Take stock of everything and clean it up.
Here are a few images of our own winter gardens that need some drastic spring clean up.
Here's a look at a dead fern that was planted in an old tree trunk after the tree had been cut down.
The dead fern is holding the fallen leaves as you can see.
Everything here needs removing.
In the foreground of this image you can see the left over stems of perennials.
In addition, there are a lot of leaves within the garden.
EVERYTHING in the foreground of this image needs to be entirely removed so that nothing is left but the bare garden.
Here's a great example of a garden that needs help.
We have some left over perennials sticking up from the debris.
Even though it's hard to imagine from this image, the ground is covered with the leaves of dead hostas plus other plants.
Everything needs to be cleaned out.
As a bonus, notice the perennials starting to emerge in the lower right. These are daffodils that have just started to come alive.
Clean Out Leaves:
We know, many people, including yours truly, like to keep fallen leaves in their gardens through the winter to act as a winter mulch. You can see that in the photos of our gardens above. The leaves also help the garden soil stay in place during rains and will begin to decompose, giving the gardens some nutrients.
However, spring gardening means tidying up, and that means cleaning out leaves to get ready for planting.
You can use the old-fashioned method of scooping them up by hand or blowing them into the lawn using your blower, being careful to blow gently so as not to blow the soil into the lawn as well, and then raking and picking them up.
Possibly the best alternative of sucking them up using a leaf sucker.
If you don't own a blower with a leaf sucker attachement then you should buy one - especially if you have gardens than need leaf clean-up. This landscape tool is one that's frequently overlooked but in our opinion, it should be on the list of every gardener that works outside - and that means every gardener.
Apply Fresh Mulch:
Many people don't think of mulching their gardens in the winter or early spring, and that's too bad. Fresh mulch can give a drab garden a little boost during the off season.
Indeed, as spring gets closer, now might be the time to apply some fresh mulch - and if you'll need to work in your gardens later that's not a problem. Simply pull the mulch back, away from the area in which you're working, and spread it back over the area when you're done.
#2: Power Equipment Maintenance - The Spring Gardening Chore That's Often Skipped
Being pro landscapers, we get all of our power equipment tuned up each spring because it gets heavy use. You on the other hand, as a homeowner, may not need to do this as often.
However, things to consider are your mower which should get an oil change, spark plug change and blade sharpening at least. If you own an electric mower, some of these things may not be necessary. Either way, consult your owners manual for routine maintenance instructions.
We hear the same thing every year when we put our mowers in the shop for their spring tune up. "Why don't people do this early?" the shop owner compains.
It seems procrastination is all too common and we get it. We are all busy people.
However, if you're ready to mow for the first time and your mower won't start, you'll be faced with the rude awakening that your mower repair shop has a 2-4 week lead time! How long will your grass be 4 weeks after it should have been mowed? Too long, we say!
In addition to mowers, you probably have a line trimmer, blower, maybe a chain saw, hedge trimmers or more.
All power equipment should be checked now, so that you're not suprised later when something doesn't start. Trust us. Avoid the stress and do it now!
#3: Maintaining Your Landscape Tools
There are other tools that should be maintained in addition to your power equipment.
These include your spade, which should be cleaned of mud and debris and sharpened, shovels cleaned-up, pruners oiled, and any other tools you might see fit to maintain.
Keep this in mind. Like any vocation that needs working tools, gardening is no different. Maintaining them in good working will make your gardening work much, much easier. It's definitely worth spending the extra time now to avoid later the problem of tools not working correctly because they are broken.
#4: Spring Fertilizer For Your Lawn
You can read more details about applying fertilizer to your lawn HERE, but just know that one of the most important applications of fertilizer you can do to your lawn is in the beginning of spring, either just before or right after your lawn has broken dormancy.
The reason why this application is so important is because, in addition to fertilizer, it will contain a pre emergent that will help prevent some weeds from germinating, including the ever prevasive crabgrass - that annoying weed that will take over and smother your grass if you let it.
Here in our area of the U.S., we apply spring fertilizer in March, well before many of the spring flowers have started their growth cycle.
#5: Spring Gardening Hardscape Maintenance
Another important task that is probably less enjoyable than most is maintaining your hardscapes.
For instance, do you have a wooden garden bench that needs staining? How about a rock wall where some of the rocks have fallen over. Perhaps your coy pond needs cleaning. These are just a few of the many spring gardening chores you can do now to get a jump on the season.
Believe me when I say it feels nice, when the weather turns warmer and we want to work in our gardens, that these other chores will have already been done.
Here you can see a rock wall that used to be stacked but some of the stones have fallen over.\
This is probably due to deer problems but it could also be weather which has washed the rocks loose.
In addition you can see some other debris - relatively minor, but it still needs removing
Our Spring Gardening To-Do List - Final Thoughts
We understand that everyone is busy. We all have different lives that we do our best to lead in fulfilling ways. Perhaps gardening is your way. Perhaps not.
Whatever the case, accomplishing your spring gardening chores early will give you that feeling of piece of mind, knowing the necessary tasks has been done. It's great feeling and we urge you do try it for yourself so you can experience the same feeling.