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Planting a young perennial plant in the garden.

How To Prepare Your Garden For Spring

It’s time to start thinking about how to prepare your garden for spring planting. If your ground is starting to thaw and things around you are turning green, dig in! If you're in a colder area and your garden is still sleeping underneath a bed of snow, now is the perfect time to get organized and be extra ready once the warm weather comes your way.

Follow these 10 simple steps to get your garden ready for the spring and summer seasons ahead!


1. Take Stock of Tools

It’s normal for pruners, shears, and other sharp gardening tools to dull with use. We recommend sharpening your tools and making sure everything – including bigger tools such as weed whackers and rototillers – are in working order before the spring season. Sharp, well-maintained tools are safer, and they'll make your work easier. You'll thank yourself later!

2. Evaluate the State of Your Garden

Depending on where you are, winter can be harsh on not only the plants in your garden, but also your infrastructure. Make sure raised beds, fences, containers, trellises, etc. have made it through the winter. If anything is damaged, consider fixing these things before anything else.

3. Make Sure Your Soil is Ready

We don’t want you to jump the gun and get started in on your garden too early. In fact, working soil that is too wet can be damaging. A general rule is to pick up the soil in your hands and try to form a ball in your hand. If the soil is moist enough that you can form a ball, walking on it and working in it can compact it too much. Wait until your soil is dry enough that it's more light and loose, and doesn’t form a ball in your hand.

Learn More: Early Spring Soil Preparation

4. Test and Amend Your Soil

Before adding new varieties to your garden in the spring, we recommend doing a soil test, and amending the soil as needed. It’s affordable, easy, and will give your plants the best chance of thriving in your garden. If you didn’t add a fresh layer of organic compost in the fall, we recommend doing so in early spring before you plant.

Learn More: How To Improve Garden Soil and How To Recharge Soil In Containers

5. Clear Existing Growth For Wildflowers

If you're planning on planting wildflowers, make sure to remove all existing growth in the early spring by rototilling or turning over the soil, depending on the size of the area. Wildflowers do best when planted directly on bare soil. Learn everything you need to know about planting wildflowers in our planting guide.

Learn More: How To Plant Wildflowers

6. Clean Up Leaves and Weeds - Only When It's Warm Enough!

We encourage gardeners to leave healthy plants like ornamental grasses and native flowers to stand over the winter, for both visual interest as well as food and habitat for pollinators and wildlife. In the cooler days of spring, many pollinators will still be hibernating. 

Typically, it's safe to start cleaning up leaves when daytime temperatures are consistently in the 50s F. 

When spring comes, you can cut back grasses and herbaceous perennials, leaving a few inches of stem above the ground, to make room for healthy new growth. You can also remove spent annuals that may be leftover from the previous season.

It's important to pull weeds early and often, to make sure they don't take over or steal valuable nutrients and water from your garden plants. Leaves can decompose and add organic matter to your soil, but if the layers are too thick, they may inhibit growth from new plants. 

7. Prune and Cut Back

LavenderButterfly BushArtemisia, and other woody perennials and shrubs that bloom on new branches should be cut back in the early spring. Make sure to wait until there is no more chance of a hard frost before you take this step. Evergreen or semi-evergreen perennials, such as Bearded Iris, can be cleaned up and trimmed back to help encourage new, healthy growth.


8. Divide and Transplant

If you didn’t get to this in the fall, divide and re-plant perennials such as Daylilies, HostasBearded IrisOrnamental Grasses, and Black Eyed Susan in the early spring, as soon as green stems emerge. This will help them stay healthy, continue growing, and help you expand your garden! (Or you can share with some lucky gardening friends.) 

Learn More: Dividing and Moving Plants In Early Spring


9. Stake or Support Plants 

Make sure to support your DahliasPeonies, Asters, Foxgloves, and other plants that have heavy flowers or tall, willowy blooms as needed in the early spring. Staking them early will be much easier than when foalige and blooms are in full swing.

Metal ‘peony rings’ offer an adjustable height and allow flowers and foliage to grow up through the supports. Tomato cages can work, too. You can also make your own support system, using garden twine and metal or bamboo stakes.

Learn More: How To Grow Peonies and How To Grow Dahlias


10. Add New Plants

With all of this early spring preparation out of the way, the next step is the most fun: add new perennial plantsbulbs, and wildflowers to your garden!

White Cosmos and Bee
Echinacea, Black Eyed Susans, and Ornamental Grass
Edge Of Joy Dahlia and Bee