Spring has already arrived in Georgia and my garden is showing the first signs of new growth.  I know many of you are still dealing with snow and cold.  I am glad that is done here in the south, but we get a new challenge in the form of pollen.  We are enjoying the warm weather, but the allergies are already kicking in.  Luckily the pollen isn’t too bad and that gives me time to take some steps to get a spring ready garden started.  Here are some tips to help you with your garden.

Spring Ready Garden Tips

Over the winter, your garden may have been exposed to harsh elements.  This kind of weather can break branches, damage plants and even cause mold on your garden walkways.  Here are 5 tips to help you get your garden in shape for spring.

Clean Up

The first step is to clear all of your garden beds and walkways of broken branches, leaves, and other debris. It is best to do this as soon as the weather is warm so any new growth is not hindered by the debris. This gives your newly budding plants the best chance to be healthy and grow quickly.

If you have trees and bushes, check them for debris including broken limbs.  If you need to trim off any dead or damaged branches, now is the time to do it.  Spring is the best time for pruning.  If you have mold on your walkways or walls, dilute bleach with water and spray it directly on the mold.  The combination of bleach with the sun will kill the mold.  I get this a lot on my stone pathway and do this each season.  It is a quick and easy fix.

Garden Tool Prep

Take an inventory of all the garden tools you have.  This is a good time to see if you need to replace any. Pull out those tools that you use, check for damage and then get them ready for cleaning. Clean off the tools with soap and water, and use mineral spirits on wood handles. The mineral spirits will help prevent the wood from splintering. If any clippers are hard to squeeze, you can put WD-40 or marvel mystery oil on them to help get them in shape.

Prepare the Soil

Now is the time to make sure your soil is ready for planting.  Take a rake, hoe, or shovel and turn the soil over.  Make sure to remove any weeds that may have grown. Next, you will want to add fertilizer or compost to the soil.  I don’t use compost, but it is very healthy for your soil.  You can buy it at Home Depot and other garden stores.

I usually add a general time-release fertilizer like Osmocote Plus to the soil around my plants.  It is important to read the label to make sure the fertilizer works with the type of plants you have.  Roses may need a special food to keep them healthy.  Check the label and see if your plant is listed and if so, you will be fine.

This is very easy to use time-release fertilizer and a little goes a long way.  This product has a combination of 11 essential nutrients including nitrogen. This usually is enough to help most plants thrive.  If you have very poor soil, you may want to ask your local nursery employees the best fertilizer for your specific problem.

Make A Plan

This is the stage I am at right now.  I have some azaleas that don’t look like they are going to make it.  Now I need to decide if I pull them out and put in new plants that are hardier.  The best thing to do is check your zone to see which flowers and plants are best for your location. You can also head to your local nursery to get planting recommendations from local experts.

Some things to consider include how much color you want.  A mix of perennial flowers with some annuals will help keep color in your garden longer. When planting it is important to think about how much sunlight each area gets and to make sure that taller plants don’t block the sun from shorter ones.  Putting taller plants in the back and then staging down to mid-size and smaller plants or flowers is a great way to add texture and interest to the garden.

Once you have a plan in mind, take it with you to your local garden center or nursery and see what they think.  They may have suggestions on the best plants for your area that will meet your needs.

spring ready garden prep
time release fertilizer

Maintenance

So now you have cleaned up your garden, added fertilizer to prepare the soil, and created a plan.  Once the weather is warm enough in your area, take the plan to your local nursery and get their advice.  Remember when picking plants to think about the upkeep. Some flowers will need to be deadheaded (cut off the faded flowers) to promote more flowers. Now is also a good time to plant annuals to supplement your perennial flowers.

Another thing to consider is getting mulch and adding it to your garden.  This will help hold down weeds while keeping in water for those long hot summer days ahead. The mulch you had down previously most likely has broken down over the fall and winter. The good news is that it added nutrients to the soil, so now you just need to replace it.  Mulch also makes your garden look neater and well kept.

Ready for Spring

At this point, you are ready for spring.  You know the condition of your tools and have all you need for spring and summer planting and maintenance.  Your soil is prepped and your plan, along with advice from garden experts, has you ready to start planting.  Another thing to consider is if your area is past any further frost.  Even in the south, sometimes we think winter is over but then have one final cold snap.  You may want to hold off on planting until you know the cold weather is gone.  That usually means April here in GA.

Now you have a spring ready garden.  Good luck with your plantings and be careful of the pollen.  I have to limit my time outside as the yellow pine pollen is especially tough on my allergies.  Have fun and happy planting!

Where to buy:

You can buy the tools, fertilizer, and plants at Walmart, Home Depot, Pike or local nurseries.  You can also buy online from various sites including Amazon.

Savvy Tip:

To save money, you can buy smaller 1-gallon plants or even seeds.  It just means you will need to be a bit more patient on growth.  I also like to take cuttings from established plants and put them in a small pot with fertilizer in the soil. Once their roots get established, I move them to a new home in my garden.  These are all cost-effective ways to add more color and texture to your garden.

Alright spring, do your thing.

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