Spring is a great time to assess damage from winter, fix tools and fences, prune shrubs, make beds, plant from seed, and more.
It’s also a good time to check your irrigation system. You may want to add a drip line or replace a hose or flag that’s damaged by the winter weather.
Start a Compost Pile
A compost pile is a great way to recycle yard and garden waste and turn it into useable soil. The process takes two to four months or longer depending on the type of material, the size of the pile and how often it’s turned.
Composting works by attracting microorganisms that decompose plant material into rich, organic soil. It’s also a way to recycle food scraps.
The key to a successful compost pile is achieving the right ratio of carbon and nitrogen. This means having a mixture of green and brown plant material (think kitchen scraps, dried leaves, weeds and grass clippings) to encourage the decomposition process.
Start by collecting leaves, twigs and weeds that have been raked up from your garden. Collect an equal amount of green and brown materials and build the pile in layers.
Keep the pile moist but not soggy and turn it occasionally with a shovel or garden fork to aerate the pile. This helps the materials break down and speed the process.
Prepare Your Soil
Spring is the perfect time to start preparing your soil for a successful growing season. Healthy soil can improve your garden’s health and aesthetic appeal, while also boosting plant growth and enhancing water flow.
Soil is a complex mixture of mineral components, organic matter, and water that carries nutrients to plants. It also filters, stores, and recycles these nutrients.
If you don’t know your soil’s characteristics, test it with a simple soil testing kit. This can tell you your soil’s pH and the amount of nutrients it has.
Sandy soil – The best way to improve this type of soil is by adding 3 to 4 inches of organic material (compost, well-rotted manure, or coconut coir) and mulching it to retain moisture.
Chalky soil – This whitish, chalky, calcium carbonate-filled soil holds onto nutrients instead of circulating them, which can lead to yellowing of plant leaves. Mulching it with 1 to 2 inches of organic matter every year can help.
Rearrange Your Planting Beds
If your garden is overgrown, it’s time to start thinking about rearranging. This will help your perennials look their best and give your vegetable plants a fighting chance of survival during the winter months.
First, make sure you have a clear area for the new bed. This will help prevent weeds from taking over the whole plot. It may also be helpful to do a soil test to see what your soil needs before you begin.
Next, lay down a layer of mulch. This will do wonders for your soil, keeping moisture and nutrients in check.
Ideally, you want to use organic material like dead leaves or leaf litter, pine needles, or wood chips. These materials are virtually free and provide a great deal of benefits to your soil, plants and overall landscape.
Besides being functional, a mulched garden bed looks neat and tidy. A well-manicured planting bed can be a show stopper in any landscape design.
Mulch is a layer of organic material, such as leaves, hay or sawdust, that covers the soil around your plants. This helps regulate soil temperature, suppresses weeds, and improves soil health and appearance.
It’s important to know when to add mulch and what type is best for your garden. A mulch of 2 to 4 inches in depth will protect your plant roots, slow weed growth, and improve the soil quality.
The thickness of the mulch also affects how water moves through the soil, says Laura Day, director of education and outreach at the University of Maryland Extension. It’s also better to use a layer of organic mulch, like shredded bark or grass clippings, than a layer of inorganic mulch, such as black plastic or landscape fabric, she says.
When deciding what kind of mulch to use, choose one that’s easy to find and apply. Some free options include recycled newspaper, cardboard or pine needles.