If you are like most gardening enthusiasts, you've been counting down the days until you can put your hands in the soil. Spring gardening takes more than just planting, though. You'll need to get your garden in shape for greenery, veggies and flowers to grow.
From cleaning out the remnants of last year's plants to prepping the soil to deciding what to plant, there are plenty of tasks to accomplish as the spring planting season arrives. We'll make your job a little easier by guiding you through crucial spring gardening stages and providing information about essential products that will make your garden grow this season and beyond.
The winter months can take a toll on your outdoor spaces, so evaluating your gardening areas should be the first step you take to prepare for the upcoming planting season. Not only will cleaning up make your property look better, but it will also provide a healthy environment for springtime plants to take root.
Start your spring garden cleaning by removing debris that can obstruct plant growth. Rake and remove leftover fall leaves, old mulch, pine needles and fallen sticks and branches. Early spring gardens are often full of the remnants of last year’s flowers and vegetable plants, so be sure to remove those too. Carefully work around areas where perennials are planted, so you don’t disturb delicate roots and bulbs.
It’s an excellent idea to trim shrubs and bushes that look unkempt during the spring season. Begin the process by using pruning shears to cut away dead or broken branches. Trim back well-established non-flowering bushes.
When it comes to pruning flowering shrubs, make sure you understand their growth patterns before you cut. While it’s OK to trim shrubs that produce blooms on new shoots, those that bloom in early spring on last year’s branches should be pruned in the late summer or fall.
Inclement winter weather, including snow and ice, can be brutal on decorative and functional landscaping. Spring is the ideal time to clean and inspect items like garden statues, flower pots, benches and trellises, and replace those broken beyond repair. Give stonework such as walls, walkways and stepping stones a good cleaning, and repair any damage. Repair or replace landscape lighting that is no longer working correctly.
Strong, healthy plants begin with nutrient-rich soil, which is a point that the United States Department of Agriculture stresses. It’s a good idea to use a soil test kit to check the pH balance of your soil and check other variables like nutrient content and moisture so you’ll understand the next steps you’ll need to take for your plants’ health.
It’s easier for seeds to germinate and root systems to develop in soil that’s loose and free of clumps. Use a garden hoe or spade to break up the soil in small areas or a garden tiller for more significant patches of land.
Once you determine your soil’s health, adding appropriate fertilizers will help you achieve a beautiful garden full of healthy plants. Spring is also the perfect time for spreading compost before you plant. If you are gardening in a raised bed or other areas that may need additional soil, mix in some packaged garden soil that’s already rich in nutrients.
It’s time to plant. Whether you love to cultivate flowers, vegetables, herbs or a combination of plants, be prepared with some essentials.
Hand tools, including rakes, spades, seeders, trowels and shears, are all useful when putting seeds in the ground and are often available in sets.
A nearly limitless variety of vegetable and flower seeds are available in packets or bulk. Be sure to follow planting recommendations for the varieties you buy. Seedlings are also available at nurseries and gardening departments. When it comes to planting flowers, keep in mind that annuals are planted each year and don’t return the following growing season, while perennials come back year after year.
Once you have a garden that looks great, keep it healthy by watering it as needed. Using a simple garden hose is the easiest way to provide hydration, and watering cans come in handy for small gardens.
Keep your garden weed-free by using a garden hoe before they overtake your plants. Adding mulch, especially to flower gardens close to the home’s exterior, adds aesthetic appeal while reducing weed growth and locking in moisture.
Developing a garden this spring can provide months of pleasure and is easy with the right items. We’ve included our favorite products below to make your garden beautiful and bountiful.
A mid-size pair of pruning shears are easy to handle and are suitable for tackling most shrubs and bushes. This pair features sharp, Teflon coated blades for easy trimming and a lifetime warranty to protect your investment. Sold by Amazon
Testing your soil before you plant a spring garden will give you insight into its fertilizer needs. The MySoil test kit is easy to use and tests the levels of 13 nutrients. It also measures pH balance. Sold by Amazon
Not only is the Sun Joe 16-inch electric tiller and cultivator easy to maneuver yet powerful enough to cut through tough soil, but it’s also powered by electricity, so you don’t have to hassle with fuel to get your garden started. Sold by Overstock, Amazon, and Home Depot
A lightweight, inexpensive pressure washer like the Greenworks 1500 PSI model is all you need to thoroughly clean garden walkways, retaining walls and more. It’s powered by electricity and has a 35-foot power cord and 20-foot hose for cleaning hard-to-reach spaces. Sold by Amazon
You’ll find yourself reaching for your garden hoe every time you head out to work in your garden. The flat, strong blade makes it versatile for accomplishing numerous tasks, from planting seeds to removing weeds and more. Sold by Home Depot
Not only is the Wizz made by a top brand in lawn and garden products, but its battery-powered operation takes the work out of applying fertilizers to small and large gardens. It also doubles as a seed spreader. Sold by Amazon and Home Depot
A bird bath will look great among the flowers in your garden and provides fresh water for feathered visitors. Made of ceramic with a decorative design, this attractive pedestal model will complement any garden. Sold by Wayfair
When you have tools for convenience and comfort, you’ll want to spend hours in the garden. Apollo’s comprehensive set includes pruning shears, a hand rake, a trowel, a durable pouch for transport and storage and a folding padded kneeler that doubles as a bench. Sold by Amazon
It’s easy to grow various tasty vegetables with Pure Pollinations’ colossal collection, which includes 40 varieties and 16,500 seeds. We like that the seeds are non-GMO and come individually packaged by variety. Sold by Amazon
With a contoured handle and rugged patented blade, you can save your hands and let the Radius Garden weeder do the work instead. The die-cast aluminum blade is designed to slice through soil and roots to make quick work of keeping gardens weed-free. Sold by Amazon
Solar-powered landscape lights showcase pretty gardens and landscaping long after the sun goes down. Bell + Howell’s solar lights feature two settings with a choice of constant or flickering modes. Sold by Bed Bath and Beyond and Amazon
Not sure which flowers to plant in your spring garden? You’ll get five packs of organic, non-GMO seeds in this set that includes marigolds, zinnias, lavender, sunflowers and cosmos. You’ll also appreciate the company’s germination guarantee. Sold by Home Depot
Your flowers and vegetable plants will grow strong and healthy when you feed the soil. Osmocote’s Smart Release formula feeds plants for as long as four months with one application. It comes in easy-to-use granules for mess-free application. Sold by Amazon and Home Depot
Jennifer Manfrin is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.