After being cooped up all winter, you may be dreaming about harvesting from a lush summer garden. But before you get there, there’s a lot of work to be done to get the garden ready. Spring garden prep can be intimidating, especially if your garden beds have been left to the weeds all winter. Get started on these tasks as soon as the soil warms in spring so you have a head start on your summer’s bounty.

Remove Weeds

If your garden is overgrown with grass and weeds or you’re prepping a new garden plot, you’ll need to clean up the beds to create a clean surface for planting. Flowers, vegetables, and other garden plants don’t like to compete with weeds, especially when they’re young and vulnerable.

If working an existing garden space, remove weeds by hoeing and hand-pulling. If you don’t intend to plant for a month or more, you can passively kill weeds by laying a heavy, dark tarp over it for several weeks. Weigh down the edges of the tarp so light and air can’t get in; eventually, weeds will die and decompose due to the heat and absence of light.


Add Amendments

Once your garden soil is weed-free, it’s ready for amendments. However, you shouldn’t heap compost, manure, or other garden amendments haphazardly. Not only is buying unnecessary garden amendments bad for your wallet, but excess nutrients and even cause soil  can harm your plants and pollute local waterways.

Ensure a productive season by getting your soil tested before adding anything. You may end up finding out you have a soil deficiency. Most soil tests cost less than $50. You can find out where to send your soil for testing by contacting your local extension office.


Turn On Irrigation

Your new plants will need water as soon as they hit the ground, which means your irrigation system needs to be up and running before you plant. If you had your sprinkler or drip irrigation system blown out and shut off in the fall, call your irrigation company to have them turn it back on.

You can also turn it on yourself. (Click Here for instructions.) If you have a drip irrigation, open the end of each drip line to flush out debris before closing them and inspecting for leaks.

If you’re creating a new garden you’ll want to add new irrigation system. Ready-made drip irrigation kits are a popular solution for home gardeners, and some types of drip irrigation can be buried if you prefer something that’s out of sight.


Choose Plants

A garden can be many things. Perhaps you envision a lush landscape of native plants, you want to grow your family’s summer vegetables, or you’re planning a full season of vibrant flower blooms. No matter which type of garden you’d like, selecting plants is easily the most exciting part.

Start by deciding if you’ll transplant seedlings or sow seeds directly into the soil. Transplanting is easier because the plants are past their youngest, most vulnerable stage by the time you plant them. However, buying transplants is more expensive than buying seed packets.

If you opt for direct sowing, spend an afternoon browsing through your favorite seed catalogs. If you intend to transplant, look around your local garden stores for plants that pique your interest. Either way, make sure you’re familiar with any plants you select, especially if you have pets.

Some plants are poisonous to cats and dogs, so it’s important that pet owners only purchase pet-safe plants. If something catches your eye that you’re unfamiliar with, research before buying to ensure it’s safe.

Everyone loves a gorgeous garden, but you don’t get there without a little bit of elbow grease. Although it seems like a lot of work now, it won’t take long to get your garden weed-free, fertile, and ready for spring planting. Give yourself one or two weekends to get these jobs done, and don’t forget to schedule time for garden maintenance throughout the season.
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