How To Prep Your Garden For Warmer Weather

Follow these easy steps to a blooming garden

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Women in garden gloves plant flowers

Photo, iStock.

Now that most of the snow has melted to reveal your garden, the sight of mud, scraggly branches and litter is less than inspiring. Take heart, all it takes is a little TLC to snap your garden out of the winter doldrums.

10 Perennials To Plant This Spring10 Perennials To Plant This Spring For An Infinitely Beautiful Garden

Take care of debris

Grab a bag and remove all the flotsam that’s accumulated at the base of plants. Rake out dead leaves that can harbour mould and be an eyesore. Till beds to aerate the soil – it’s easier for plants to get water when the “winter crust” of melted snow and salt is pulverized. Replace nutrients by adding a layer of compost or cured manure and work it in well. To cut down on watering this summer, spread cedar mulch around roots to help slow evaporation and keep plants cool.

Make the cut

Prune shrubs and trees for air circulation and improved structure. Trim off any branches that criss-cross by cutting off the older branch at the base: the younger wood is more vigorous. Get rid of any dead wood (Hint: A healthy twig’s centre is green). Early bloomers like forsythia and apple trees need to be pruned only after they flower. Wait until July to trim birch and maple and avoid messy sap flow.

Dig in

Clumps of perennials need to be divided to really thrive. If your plants seem to have a dead donut hole in the middle, take a spade to them and move to other areas, or arrange a plant swap with someone else so you can introduce new varieties into your garden. Most bulbs such as tulips are planted in fall, but you can plant dahlias, lilies and begonias in spring. Discourage squirrels from snacking on your flowers by sprinkling bone meal over the beds or hair clippings from your salon (icky, yes but it’s a natural solution that’s purported to put rodents off big time).

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Veg out

Make this the year to start a vegetable garden – it’s fresh and practically free. Buy or build supports to train tomato, pea, squash and bean vines. If they lie on the ground the bounty becomes a bug buffet. Again, be generous with compost or manure. Cow is the most common but some experienced vegetable gurus swear by chicken manure. If you have the space, plant a few hardy raspberry canes. After a couple of summers they will produce enough fruit to garnish your cereal every morning.

Greener grass

Let the spring rain do the dirty work. All you have to do is re-seed bare patches on the lawn (even a very late snow will give seeds the moisture they need). If the weather is dry, set out a soaker hose and use organic fertilizer to jumpstart those first blades.