After the winter, your garden might need a little pick-me-up. How can you ensure that your garden is ready to be at its best in the spring and summer? Putting in the time in the late winter and early spring can help your garden look glorious this year. Where should you spend that time in the garden?
Clean Up the Clutter
A cluttered garden space is less attractive overall, and it’s also harder to maintain because you can’t easily find and address the problems. That sneaky overgrown grass is hiding under your lawn chair collection. That leak in your garden irrigation system is hidden under some unwieldy bushes.
Cleaning up the clutter isn’t necessarily hard, but it can be time-consuming. According to House Beautiful, “A spring clean will ensure you have a blank canvas ready for the warmer months ahead.” To make sure that you can find and address troubles in your garden, here’s what you should do each spring:
- Remove, fix, or put away old garden furniture.
- Do some basic weeding around your garden so that you can make your perennials visible – this will help you address problems in the garden that are currently difficult to see.
- Examine your shed, playhouse, and greenhouse. Just like a house that is vacant over the winter months, these can have troubles that are not visible until spring comes and you enter them again. Look into corners and at the roof to make sure that your structures are still functioning well.
- Clean off patios and decks. This will reveal problems that you can address before the summer entertaining season.
Check Your Walking Surfaces
If you want to prevent falls and further cracks in your garden, make sure that you check out your walking surfaces. Paving stones, cement blocks, and poured concrete or asphalt can all crack over the winter months. As water moves into those cracks, freezes, and then thaws, this makes those cracks even larger. The winter does a good job of damaging your walkways, but the spring is the time to look into repairs and replacement.
What can you do if your pathways are damaged after the winter?
- Replace sections of a pathway. Consider installing pathways that are easy to replace. For instance, if you can add a new paving stone instead of hiring a company to fill a pothole, that’s simpler for you.
- If you find that you’re getting a lot of damage each year, consider changing to a more flexible material, such as gravel rather than concrete.
- Manage roots in the garden. Don’t pour concrete next to large tree roots, and avoid planting larger perennial plants near pathways and driveways. The two don’t mix because the power of those roots over time will move your pathways up and crack them as roots move underneath.
- Watch for drainage issues near pathways and driveways, especially if people tend to stray off the path and erode and compact the soil next to the pathways. These drainage issues lead to puddles and can also lead to water damage. Consider using paving stones, bricks, or gravel instead or plant right up to the side of the pathway or driveway to prevent people from stepping there.
See Where the Water Goes
If you live in a rainy climate or a snowy one, chances are the beginning of the spring and the end of winter will bring with it some mud and muck in the garden. You can choose to embrace the puddles and place a pond or wetland garden in that location, or you can choose to get rid of them.
For many people, puddles are a muddy irritation that also poses a hazard in the garden, making it easier to trip and slip. If you feel that way about puddles, you need to see if you can find a way to make them go away, but how?
- Look for the cause of the water. Are your gutters overflowing? Clean them or install a gutter guard. Do you have a leak in a pipe or does a pipe from the roof drain into an awkward place? Either install a rain garden or find a way to reroute that water into an underground drainage system or into an area that needs it.
- Install drainage systems such as French drains as the spring moves on. This allows you to move water into a drain in your garden instead of letting it sit in a puddle.
- Shape your garden landscape so that water moves where you want it to move. Water is pretty simple: it moves downhill and accumulates in holes. Make it move by creating a small downhill slope that leads away from trouble spots and to the areas where you want the water.
- Avoid soil compaction and its associated puddles in the garden by planting and mulching in the areas where people tend to walk and compact the soil.
Prevent Weeds This Spring
With the return of birdsong comes the return of the weeds. These enthusiastic plants grow vigorously in your garden and will take over if you don’t watch them vigilantly. Spring is an excellent time to do some hard weeding in your garden because the ground tends to be soft and wet rather than hard and dry as it is in the summer months. What can you do to prevent weeds?
- Get to know your baby weeds. What do they look like when they first come out of the ground? This will help you remove them.
- Prune your bushes and other large plants so that you reveal the location of the weeds and can move into the depths of each garden bed to remove them.
- Add mulch to the top of your garden beds. Plants love the light, so by adding a lot of mulch on top of your beds, you’ll help keep those weeds down.
- Overplant. Add more plants that you want in your space, and you’ll reduce the space for unwanted plants.
- Avoid digging up the soil in areas that have had a lot of weeds in the past. Chances are, there are seeds just waiting to see the light of day and sprout. According to Fine Gardening, you should “Dig only when you need to and immediately salve the disturbed spot with plants or mulch.”
- If you find a prolific group of weeds growing in your garden and you can’t remove the roots, take off the tops instead. It’s hard for plants to grow and grow when you continue to remove parts of the plant.
Prune Your Plants
Spring is the time to do pruning so that your plants will stay in shape all summer. Make sure that you do this in the late winter or very early spring when the plants are still dormant. While a lot of pruning can take place in the fall, in the springtime you can prune shrubs that are not spring-flowering.
According to HGTV, “Dormant-season pruning…permits you to see plant form and structure clearly, a benefit when you’re shaping trees and shrubs.” If you want to avoid runaway plants in the spring and summer, pruning in the late winter allows you to shape those plants and change the way they grow before they begin to get their leaves and flowers.
- Prune smaller plants or remove them entirely if you need to make space in your garden.
- Prune shoots off of trees so that you can control which way your smaller trees grow this year.
- Tidy up hedges so that your garden makes a great first impression.
Pruning is hard on a plant. Make sure that you prune during cool days so that your plants are less stressed.
Avoid a Bug Party
Do mosquitoes, wasps, and ants bug you every year? Get on top of this in the spring, and you’ll be happier in your garden during the summer months.
- Remove sources of standing water such as wheelbarrows, children’s toys, stagnant ponds, puddles, and clogged gutters. Add better drainage, clean up the yard, and add a gutter guard instead.
- Examine your siding and the areas around windows for softness. If you find water-damaged areas, have a professional look at them right away. These can attract bugs and can also lead to mold and structural concerns.
- Fix holes in your roof, siding, and attic. Wasps would love to take up residence: make your home less friendly to them.
Make a Plan
Before you embark on spring or summer renovations, make a plan for garden success. Take a look around your dormant winter garden and plan how it will look during the blooming spring and summer months. Make sure that all of the efforts you make in the winter and early spring work into this plan, so that you renovate pathways, adjust water flow, and prune and mulch in a way that will work seamlessly come spring and summer.
Are you ready to have a glorious garden this year? Talk with Harry Helmet. Our home products will help you create a home and garden space that functions well and looks beautiful. Are you curious how our roofing and gutter guard products work? Schedule a free estimate today.