As spring ushers warmth, the inside of your house is not the only place you need to take care of. Adding these basic gardening jobs to your spring cleaning regime is a must if you want your garden to be ready for the summer months.
Whether you are a novice gardener or you have a seasoned green thumb, these simple steps will help your garden thrive during the warmest months of the year.
Make a Spring Inspection
Seasoned gardeners know how important it is to keep a journal of what is happening in their gardens each season. Grab a notebook and a pencil and take a walk around your garden.
Check for snow and ice damage on plants as well as beds that need cleaning. Be on the lookout for rodent or animal damage to woody plants.
Rabbits and other nuisance creatures like to burrow in people’s gardens, so check for that as well. While your plants are still dormant, you should also check whether you need to repair hardscaping such as trellises, fences, and raised beds.
Clean and Sharpen Garden Tools
If your old garden tools have been collecting dust and rust all winter long, now is the time to give them a makeover. By cleaning and sharpening your tools, you will prevent them from infecting and spreading disease to your plants.
You should be able to easily blast mud off of your tools with a jet of water. However, you may need to soak them in hot water first if the dirt has really hardened. Use a sturdy wire brush to scrub off any remaining debris.
To protect the blades or tines of ground-contact and digging tools such as hoes, you should occasionally coat them with oil. Any vegetable-based oil should do the trick. Don’t use petroleum-based oil because it can taint the soil.
You should disinfect all of your tools before you use them. You can use rubbing alcohol or make your own bleach solution.
By eliminating parts of the shrubs that are damaged by weather, infested with harmful insects, or dead, you will promote healthy growth. Pruning also allows you to shape the growth of your shrubs and trees, making them look even prettier.
Start by removing damaged or dead wood from your shrubs and trees. You can identify them by the lack of living and thriving foliage and their colourless appearance.
Dead limbs are an eyesore at best. At worst, they are disease spreaders. You should also remove any wood that extends precariously over the paving slabs.
Prepare the Soil
The best time to enrich the soil is in spring. This way, you won’t disturb your plants too much. If you haven’t tested your soil for a couple of years, or if you’ve never done it, it’s a good idea to do it now.
You can follow this guide or buy a soil test kit. This process will help you determine whether your garden lacks much-needed nutrients for healthy growth. You should also tile the soil in order to loosen it.
When you are done with testing your soil and adding the suggested amendments, you should add a layer of compost to your garden. An inch or two should suffice.
If you haven’t been composting, you can buy compost at your local garden centre. But it’s strongly recommended to start your own composting pile for next year.
On top of helping your plants thrive, composting organic waste materials and kitchen scraps in a composting bin is a great way to reduce your environmental impact.
“The greens” and “the browns” are the two main ingredients in the world of composting. Greens add nitrogen to your composting mix. These include vegetable and fruit peelings, grass clippings, coffee grounds, etc.
Pine needles, dried leaves, newspapers, and egg cartons are the browns. These are more carbon-rich—paper especially. The browns are key because they add bulk and air, making sure that the microorganisms can do their job.
It’s important to break down larger pieces of cardboard or paper into smaller ones before you place them into your compost heap; shredding the paper helps greatly.
Compost-safe paper varieties include:
- Scrap paper
- Notebook paper
- Work and school papers (Used of course; you don’t want your kid to be the first pupil ever to use “my Mom composted my homework” as an excuse).
- Office paper
- Non-glossy junk mail
- Credit card statements
Put mulch over your garden just before the summer heat arrives. Just a thin layer of mulch over the base of your garden will greatly help your plants grow.
In addition to protecting plants’ stalks and roots from the sun, mulch is full of beneficial soil nutrients. Moreover, adding natural stone is also a way to improve soil health in your garden.
You will ensure your plants never go thirsty if you mulch (and water regularly, of course). Most garden centres sell much for cheap.
You can also make your own mulch from the brush in your yard. All you need is a shredder or a wood chipper.
Keep Pests Under Control
Little pests such as snails, slugs, grasshoppers, and aphids like to feast on the leaves of flowering plants. Needless to say, these garden pests can easily compromise the health of your garden.
Check whether they are hanging around your fruit trees, shrubs, and flower bushes. You can use a water hose, or simply your hands, to remove larger offenders. To keep pests away from your garden in the future, treat your plants with natural pesticides.
Get floating row covers. They will protect plants from pests such as cabbage worms. So that your plants can get the light and water they need, these are made of a lightweight spun fabric.
If you live in an area where freezing temperatures are a possibility in spring and summer, don’t use plastic tarps or sheeting. Better options include old sheets and towels.
It is important to note that gardens are natural habitats for many different insects and animals, and not all of them are destructive. So that you can tell a welcomed bug from a harmful one, do some research on what kind of pests live in your area.
Watch out for larger grazing animals such as deer or rabbits if you grow veggies or fruit. They can easily ruin weeks of hard gardening work if left unchecked.
Treat Your Garden Furniture
There is no better way to spend a pleasant summer day than to have friends and family over for a nice garden barbeque on your patio, (how to plan a patio). On top of a good grill, you’ll need garden furniture for this to be successful.
Remove your garden stools and tables from the shed to give them a quick once over. To preserve wooden furniture, consider treating it. You can even give it a complete makeover.
However, if you dread the thought of having to stain and refinish our garden furniture every now and then, or don’t like the fact that it has a limited lifespan, consider replacing it with granite tables and chairs.
It’s very easy to care for granite since it is tough and weather-proof. To keep it clean and pretty, all you need is a bit of soap and water. Polished granite lasts a lifetime and requires no sealing.
If you are up for a big outdoor project this summer, check out our post on crazy paving.
Divide and Transplant
You can transplant or divide shrubs or perennials that have outgrown their space while the plants are still dormant. If they have no foliage, they will be less stressed by the move. If you move summer and fall-blooming perennials now, they can focus on developing roots.