After weeks of being buried in snow, spring presents an altogether different proposition for gardens and gardeners alike. It is the best time to plant, prune, grow vegetables or flowers, and tend to your lawn. That said, the months in between are the perfect time to begin preparing for this busy season, something you can do through the following steps:
Do a bit of spring cleaning
Once the snow melts away, you’ll see just how much cleaning you need to do in your garden. Remove any dead annual plants that you see, especially those that remained over winter. If you planted any herbaceous perennials, The Spruce recommends removing the winter mulch you’ve added and prune them down to ground level. Don’t forget to remove burlap wraps, windscreens, rose cones, and other types of winter protection that you set up at the end of autumn. Brush back thick layers of dried leaves, too, as there's no need to remove everything. A thin layer can help keep weeds down and feed your garden soil as well.
Prune shrubs, evergreens, semi-evergreens, and perennial plants
Plants like Epimedium, Hellebores, Heuchera, and bearded iris tend to retain their leaves during winter. During late winter or early spring, you need to trim back any tattered foliage to encourage growth. Moreover, ornamental grass need to be cut as soon as you can, and you have to make sure you them cut within a few inches off the ground. Meanwhile, early spring is the best time to prune your shrubs, except for spring-blooming ones — for those, you will have to wait for them to finish blooming before you prune them.
Get rid of weeds
Early spring is also the best time to get rid of garden weeds as the damp soil can help make weeding easy and almost effortless. You can make a compost pile out of the weeds you’ve gathered, but make sure you throw away any plant materials that show signs of disease. The BBC notes that annual weed seeds can survive for years in the soil, so it’s best that you know how to identify the seedlings and remove them early on.
Prepare your soil
During winter, soil can become compacted. It’s important to loosen the soil before tilling or turning it once the weather outside becomes more bearable. Work the soil to a depth of 12 to 14 inches. While you’re tilling the soil, make sure you remove mulch that is too fresh. Any leaf litter or mulch that is well composed can be mixed right in.
Check the tools in your shed
It saves you a lot of money in the long run if you keep your garden tools in good shape, so it helps to inspect them before the onset of spring to see if any of them need a good clean or replacing. Pruning clippers need to be cleaned and oiled after every use. Chainsaws need to be sharpened regularly and the chain tension and air filters need to be checked monthly. Lawnmowers also need to be cleaned after every use. Start each cutting session with an oil change and make sure you regularly check the spark plug. If you’re planning to replace it, one rule of thumb on Screwfix’s lawnmower section is to base the size of your mower on the size of your garden—the bigger the garden, the bigger the lawnmower. The size of the mower’s collection box matters too, as it will determine how often you need to stop to empty it while you’re mowing your lawn.
Hunt down garden pests
Vine weevils are quite common and the adult ones are often active at night from spring to autumn. They eat the notches in the leaf margins, which can spoil the appearance of foliage. However, The Telegraph reports that the grub stage is more destructive because they eat plant roots and kill your plants, especially the potted ones, no matter the time of year. The adult weevil damage is hard to prevent, but you can weed the larvae out with a compost drench. Other pests to look out for include viburnum beetles that also eat leaves and the cushion scale that attacks evergreen plants.
Fix what the weather broke
If winter has hit your garden hard, it’s best to assess the damage first before making any changes. Are there trees or shrubs that need to be removed? Are your fences still intact? Did any part of your greenhouse break? Are your garden gnomes, gazebos, or any other garden fixtures still standing? If you’ve seen a lot of damage to your garden or even experienced theft while you were away during the holidays, our Emerald Life experts suggest you consider home insurance and one that covers not only your home, but also your garden. This way, you can rest easy regardless of what happens during the winter.