Hello Spring! Seven Gardening Tips to Help You Prepare for the Season

You may have noticed winter winds are fading away and being replaced with warmer spring temperatures. As every gardener knows, a beautiful spring garden doesn’t just appear out of thin air! Now is the time when seasoned gardeners are getting their land into tip-top shape. However, even beginners can create an ideal space for not only gorgeous plants, but also the pollinators who call gardens home. Here are seven tips to help you prep your garden for spring.

  1. Plan ahead.

    Before you get started, first decide what to plant. Will you be planting seeds or using established plants? How will your garden be laid out? A good first step is to walk through your current garden or Seven Gardening Tipsgreen space to review last year’s choices and consider your placement of plants based on sunlight, shade and irrigation needs. Regardless of what you choose, be sure to select pollinator-friendly plants! Planting colorful flowers will attract honey bees and other important pollinators.

    Still unsure about what to plant? The Pollinator Partnership has dozens of planting guides on its website and a BeeSmart mobile app that helps gardeners select the best plants in their area to attract bees.

  2. Do some spring cleaning!

    If you didn’t use the fall to clean out old plants and flowers from last year’s garden, now is the time to remove any debris from your gardening space. In fact, some pests and disease-causing microbes may use this material as a home for the winter, so it’s best to make sure the plants from last year are trimmed back or removed. It’s also a good idea to grab a rake and remove any winter mulch or pine straw you installed to tidy up the area.

  3. Inspect the soil.

    Determining the health of your soil is quite possibly the most important step in spring garden preparation. Your soil provides nutrients that plants need to grow, so it’s vitally important to give it a good check-up. Many gardeners use a soil sampling kit, which can be found at your local home and garden center, to ensure their soil contains the right nutrients for planting. Plant in potYou can also use a soil sampling kit to inform your decisions about fertilizing methods.

    You should aerate your soil by breaking it up to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the plant roots. Be sure to throw out any rocks you find in the process.

  4. Be on the lookout for pests.

    Gardeners inevitably come across uninvited garden pests every year. Before you start planting, take the time to check with your local master gardeners organization on what to look for and how to incorporate integration pest management strategies to get rid of them and prevent future garden infestations. You’ll also want to check any perennials for slugs, snails or aphids so you can treat any infestations you find. If you decide to use a chemical product, be sure to read and follow label directions for any product you’re using.

  5. Fix up the space.

    It’s best to fix broken structures and gardening tools before you start planting so you’re spending the season taking care of the plants in your garden. Also, be sure to treat any wooden structures with a preservative during dry periods to prevent cracks and splitting.

    So, get to mending that fence, painting that trellis and replacing those garden gnomes. You are now well on your way to a beautiful garden!

  6. Check out your current inventory of gardening tools.

    If you used gardening equipment last spring, chances are you’ll need to check it out before getting started. Blades, or anything with an edge, may need to be cleaned and sharpened to improve their performance. Proper tool maintenance will not only save you from buying new equipment, but it will also help prevent the spread of disease transmission between cuttings. You should also inspect any other equipment to make sure everything is in proper working order.

  7. Planting vegetables? Consider raised beds.

    If you’re looking to use this space to create a veggie garden for you and your family, installing raised beds is a good idea as they warm quickly in the spring, encourage good irrigation and aeration, and work well even with difficult soil. Raised beds are also easier to maintain. Pulling weeds and cultivating your plants will be much easier, because you'll be able to reach every corner of your bed without bending and stooping as much as you would otherwise.

    If you’ve never used raised beds before, check out Washington State University Extension’s guide on how to build and maintain them as part of your garden.

Good luck, and enjoy your spring gardens and the pollinators they attract!