Seasonal Gardening Checklist: Preparing Your Garden for Spring

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The return of spring in our gardens

Although the timing varies depending on where we are, the return of spring is unmistakable. The sunshine illuminating the earth, fragrant flowers blooming and calling for bees, and the growth we see in plants across the land remind us that winter is over, and a new season has begun. 

I know spring is here by the abundance of roses, lavender blooms, and dandelions; the ripening of my nectarines, and blueberries, and, to my great delight, the hummingbirds that fly around my garden. 

The earth is awake and ready to grow, and I know it’s time for another beautiful season outside. 

It also means it’s time to prepare my garden for this wonderful time of year. Everyone’s garden preparation will look different depending on where they are, the state of their garden, and their goals for the growing season, but this is my general checklist of how to prepare a garden for spring.

Spring is blooming!

How to prepare your garden for spring

There are four major steps to preparing our gardens for spring, and they are cleaning, inventory, pruning, and planting. 

1. Cleaning

Cleaning is an essential part of garden preparation. When it’s nearly time to get back in the garden for spring, it’s important to spend time picking up any overlooked debris like plant identification tags. Maybe you were growing some herbs that didn’t survive the winter, but you still have their tags in your raised bed. If you haven’t already, now is the time to remove them so you can use that space for new herbs. 

Do you have any planters that once housed plants, but the plants didn’t come back after winter? I like to collect all the soil from these planters in a large container, shake anything out of the planters, and stack them. This way the soil can be used for new planting projects, and I have all the pots organized so I know what is where. 

When the garden is tidied, I can get a clearer idea of what is growing, what supplies I have, and how I will move forward.

2. Inventory

Stacking pots is part of the inventory I do. I also look at the “real estate” of my raised beds and barrel planters to determine how much space I have for new plants. I evaluate my tools, and see if there is anything that needs cleaning ahead of the new season.

I store my garden tools in my shed and my garage, and it’s imperative I organize my supplies so I can see everything. Isn’t it frustrating to know you have a certain tool, planter, or miscellaneous item, but you can’t find it? We can avoid this by putting things where they go, and always returning them to their designated spot. 

Doing inventory also means I know what I have, so I don’t buy something new because I forgot I had it or couldn’t find it. Another thing to consider is how we can repurpose something we have to avoid buying something new – I always think we have more than we realize when we apply a little creativity. 

3. Pruning

Pruning may happen before a freeze, at the beginning of spring, before you clean, or after; it doesn’t make a difference as long as it gets done. 

Do you have any plants with branches or stems that died off, but the plant is still alive? It’s time to snip away that old growth so the plant can direct all its energy into new growth. My annual pruning chords include my elephant ears which grow all around my garden. Pruning will vary depending on what you have growing, and it helps our plants thrive in the growing season to come. 

4. Planting

This is often considered the most exciting step of the spring garden checklist. Maybe you started some seeds indoors and now you’re transplanting them, or perhaps you picked up some live plants at your local nursery. Either way, it’s time to put them in the ground, pot, planter, and/or raised beds!

This spring, I’m growing a variety of herbs including chamomile, stevia, peppermint, valerian, and mugwort. I want all of these precious plants to grow, so I planted them around my garden according to available space and amount of sunlight. It’s important to have an idea of how a plant grows before planting it; does it spread like mint, or grow upwards in a long stack like mugwort? How much space does each plant need, and how will they affect their neighbors? 

I recommend getting your plants planted sooner (subject to environmental conditions, of course) than later so they can get started in their new homes.

Some of the plants I picked up to plant this spring

Preparing ourselves for spring

It’s one thing to prepare our gardens for spring, but what about us? Just like our plants, we have growing to do, and we must adapt our growth to the new season. Have you cleaned, done inventory, pruned, and planted?

To set yourself up for success in the spring, I suggest taking time to clean up your living and working space. What clutter do you have, and is it weighing on your mind? Are there old receipts and papers you can get rid of? Is there anything in your fridge that’s no good? Don’t delay any longer – clean up your space.

Do inventory for your life by considering your relationships and associations. How much energy are you directing to friendships that do not nourish you? Are you a part of any clubs or studios, like a gym, that cause more stress than peace? Are you neglecting your mind, body, or spirit? This is the perfect time to evaluate how you’re spending your time, and how you can use it better for a prosperous spring. 

Prune away old growth and support the new. It’s one thing to take inventory of your life, it’s another to make action. This leads us to planting the new hobbies, habits, and routines of the season. Think carefully about what you plant in the garden of your life, and be prepared to nurture those plants with the water, fertilizer, and light they need to grow. Remember – consistency is key! In order for your seeds to take root, sprout, and bloom, they need care and nourishment

It’s time to get started

Are you ready for spring? I hope so! Let’s get to growing. 

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