Spring Gardening Tasks
Spring cleaning doesn't just apply to inside the home. It is officially time to put on the gardening gloves and get busy outside! I find that sometimes all of these tasks can feel overwhelming. There is so much to be done and so much to be planted. Getting everything completed little by little really does take away the stress. The best way to tackle this is by setting aside time in advance for the most important chores that need to get done. After that, the smaller tasks really don't seem that difficult. It is so much easier to work out in your yard when the least enjoyable parts of garden cleanup are behind you. Trust me on this!
Getting Ready For Spring
Garden Tools-I store all my tools in the shed during the winter months. The first thing I do is give them a small inspection to make sure they are all in working order. Sharpen any blades that have become dull and give anything dirty a good cleaning. After this, it is time to bring out the good old wheelbarrow. In my opinion, the wheelbarrow is truly a gardeners best friend. It not only helps me pick up and move debris, but it also helps me transport heavy tools instead of having to lug them around. This is a total life and back saver. My next step is to go around the yard collecting any downed tree branches and twigs. This is not a fun step, but it is a necessary step after the winter snowstorms. You will feel so much better once this step is done!
Rake Garden Beds-Time to grab the rake and start cleaning out those garden beds. Keeping leaves and debris covering your plants over the colder months is always a good idea for protection and insulation. It also provides birds and garden critters with nesting materials. Make sure when you are raking out your garden beds, you do so gently, as not to disturb spring bulbs that may be starting to emerge. While doing this, look for any damage that may have occurred during the winter, so you can tend to that next. I take the leaves and debris collected, and I form a compost pile as well as a burn pile in my backyard. Most towns around here allow you to burn during the early months of the year as long as you have the required permit to do so. Pick a day designated to burning ahead of time and mark your calendar!
Pruning-Remove all dead or damaged branches from your shrubs and plants. New England is known for it's harsh winters. Most of the time my shrubs really take a beating. Falling ice and snow can really make a mess of a beautiful plant. This year, the shrubs held up well. Last year, a good portion of the azalea bushes were severely damaged by ice. With some extra TLC, and some heavy pruning, it's beginning to look good as new! It is important to read up on certain plants and shrubs before you prune them. I learned this the hard way. Make sure you trim plants during the required season for best growth. Some do best pruned before new growth. Others do better being pruned after new growth has finished blooming. I have really messed up some hydrangeas in the past by pruning them at the wrong time. You live and you learn!
Cutting damaged parts off of the azalea bush as shown on bottom left
Seeds & Sprouts: It is the perfect time to start some seeds! You can start annuals as well as vegetables indoors before your last frost date. I am starting peppers, tomatoes and lettuce indoors under grow lights. When it comes to annuals, I'm starting impatiens, snap dragons and calendula. If you are itching to get outdoors and plant, now is the time to get poppy seeds, sweet peas and garden peas into the ground. The cold helps these plants germinate, and as long as the ground isn't frozen, they will begin to grow. Make sure to soak sweet peas 12-24 hours before planting to give them a jump start. If you want to enjoy some healthy greens before the lettuce is ready to harvest outdoors, you can try growing sprouts and microgreens inside. They grow fast, and provide nutrition to salads, sandwiches and smoothies! If you have animals, you can also grow wheatgrass for chickens and cat grass to hold over your feline friends!
Window Box & Containers: I like to start prepping my window box a few weeks before Easter. I dampen the old soil and add some fresh soil to the mix. Pansies are a very hardy spring annual, so I like to add some as soon as they arrive at my local garden center. They can withstand cold temperatures better than most flowers. If you plant these flowers in containers, make sure to water them often. Before Easter, I will be adding some vinca vines and violas to my box. Pictured is what my window box looks like today.
For The Birds: If you enjoy hearing the relaxing sounds of birds chirping in the yard like me, now is the time to clean out the birdhouses. Get rid of any nests from last season and give them a quick cleaning. Any hanging metal bird feeders also benefit from a quick scrub. I also like to clean my squirrel guard that sits below my bird feeder. It is always a good idea to make sure your bird baths stay bacteria free. Thoroughly rinse out the bath and allow it to dry, then refill with new water. Every year, the birds love making a nest right on top of the rain gutter. I always giggle because they have many bird houses to choose from, but they like it there. It is warm, protected from the elements and a nice little comfy spot! I look forward to seeing one form year after year. It is close to my azalea bush, so the shrub acts as a rest stop for them. Pictured is the most recent nest formed last week. And yes, that is dryer lint!
Pictured above-tulips, peonies, hyacinths, daylilies, crocuses and the trees all are beginning to bloom. The bird activity has definitely started ramping up, including a group of turkeys that like to explore the neighborhood!
The number one thing I want to remind everyone to do is to stop and enjoy spring! Sometimes we can get caught up in all the work we need to do around the yard. I've definitely done that in the past. Yes, there are tasks and chores we must do every season. Once these are done, don't feel the need to fix every little thing you may notice in your yard. If life gets in the way, and something doesn't get done, don't fret. We all have spots that need improvement in the yard, but try not to focus on that. Doing it all at once can be overwhelming. Reward yourself by just relaxing outside and enjoying all the beautiful flowers you see. Flowers like crocuses and tulips bloom for such a short amount of time. It's important to stop and enjoy them when you can. That has made all the difference in gardening for me. Get out there and focus on what you have, not what you don't! Remember to designate a certain amount of time to spring yard work. After that, enjoy all of your hard work. You deserve it!
Happy spring everyone, get out in the garden and have some fun!
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