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9 Spring Garden Maintenance Tips

Winter can seem to drag on forever, especially for gardeners who are itching to get outside and work the soil. The avid gardener lives by the rhythms of the seasons — preparation, planting, tending, harvesting. Spring, of course, is the season for preparation.

Around your yard and garden, spring is the ideal time to clean up winter’s mess and repair any damage before the heavy growth begins. With the sun finally peeking out, it’s easy to get overeager to delve into the soil, but with the soil still wet and the possibility of a late frost looming, it’s wise to exercise restraint and use the time instead to prepare.

Following are nine spring garden maintenance tips to help you get ready for growing season.

1. Take stock of winter damage.

Inspect your yard for damaged or broken tree limbs that need to be removed – particularly those that overhang structures such as your decking or cedar fence panels. Check your fencing, decking and any stairs or pathways for disrepair. Cut down any remaining perennial foliage from last year.

2. Perform a deck safety inspection.

Thoroughly examine your decking for signs of rot, loose boards or weakness in the ledger board. Test its stability by standing in the middle and moving your feet in a hula hoop motion; if it wobbles, you’ve got a problem. Test the stain on your decking by wetting it with a garden hose to see if the water beads up. If it soaks in, plan on applying a new stain when the weather warms up.

3. Plan new garden beds or fences.

If you’re planning on expanding or rearranging your garden, now is the time to lay out new beds or begin a new fence installation. Vinyl pickets, cedar fence panels and chain link fencing are all popular choices for marking garden boundaries and keeping out small animals. When choosing a fencing material, first decide on the primary purpose of the fence installation and consider whether you’re willing to put time into regular maintenance on cedar fence panels, or whether you’d prefer the low maintenance of chain link.

4. Inspect your fencing.

Examine your fence for any areas that need repair, such as broken or rotting boards, popped nails and knotholes. If you have cedar fence panels, assess whether it’s time to restain your fencing.

5. Spread compost on your beds.

If you compost — either in a backyard bin or a tumbler on your deck — it’s time to harvest. Scoop and fork it into your planting beds. Just make sure the soil is moist, but not dripping wet.

6. Prune overgrown trees and shrubs.

Begin removing plants that are dead or diseased, and cut back ornamental grasses to within a few inches of the ground. Thin and trim summer-blooming shrubs, and prune early-blooming shrubs immediately after they flower.

7. Wage war on weeds.

Pull up any weeds growing around the perimeter of your beds, as well as any near the landscaping around your fence or decking. Weeds are much easier to pull up now, when their roots are still shallow, and getting on top of them early will save a lot of work later on.

8. Plant.

Plant trees, shrubs, bulbs and cool-season vegetables. Now is also the time to re-seed any bare patches in your lawn.

9. Begin a compost pile or bin.

For those who don’t already compost but want to try it, beginning now means you’ll have fresh compost ready to harvest by next spring. If you don’t have room for a large bin or pile, consider a small compost tumbler that can fit on your decking.

Once spring growth kicks in, there will be plenty to do around the garden to keep you busy well into fall. By preparing your garden now, you can save yourself time and work later.

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