Here are 5 get-ready-to-garden tips.

It’s beginning to look a lot like springtime, which means the time has come to get your plans in order for this year’s garden, whether you’re dreaming of a bounty of vegetables, a balcony of colourful flowers, or some other sort of outdoor oasis.

The savviest gardeners have probably made their plans already, but it’s not too late for the rest of us.  With gardening, timing is almost everything, so start as soon as you can to take advantage of the long growing season up ahead.

1 Clean Up

Throughout the fall and winter, your garden can be exposed to the elements and what may be left behind from storms.  You want to first start by clearing all of your garden beds and lawn of broken branches, leaves, and other debris that have collected. It’s important to start these chores quickly, as your spring bulbs and plants should be popping out of the ground relatively soon. The earlier you clean out the beds, the less chance you have of stepping on the growing plants and damaging them.

The same cleanup method applies for your trees and bushes. To prep for spring, trim off any broken or dead branches, now is also a good time to prune and shape the tree.

2 Prep Your Garden Tools

Pull out those tools that have been sitting around all winter. It’s almost time to use your tools again, so you may want to make sure they are ready for the job.  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. You should make it a habit to clean your tools every spring and fall, or if they are especially dirty.

3 Give Your Soil Some TLC

Make sure your soil is ready for planting.  To start, turn the soil over with a pitchfork and rake it out, clearing any weeds that may have grown.  Then add fresh compost from your compost bin—if you don’t have one, use store-bought compost or manure to add nutrients to the soil. You’ll also want to add compost or manure a couple of weeks before planting something, so it has time to mix well with your soil and won’t burn the roots of your new plants.

4 Make a Plan

If you are unsure about which flowers and vegetables are best for where you live.  You can head to your local nursery to get planting recommendations from local experts. Planning your garden is the most important part.  You may want to plant so that you get color blooming throughout the season—so mix perennial flowers with some annuals as this will help keep color in your yard longer. It’s also good to plant according to height, making sure that taller plants don’t block the sun from shorter ones.

5 Be Sure You Maintain It

The key to a successful season is the upkeep.  Once your flowers start blooming you will have to deadhead to promote more flowers (depending on the species), and it’s a good time to plant annuals to supplement your perennial flowers. Deadheading is when you cut off the drooping or fading flowers from the rest of the green, healthy stem.  The late spring is also a good time to put down a nice layer of mulch on the garden.  This will help keep the weeds at bay while keeping in water for those long hot summer days ahead. It also will break down over the fall and winter and help add nutrients to the soil.

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