Spring is finally here! Don’t get me wrong – sweater weather is nice, but the groundhog’s extra six weeks of winter were felt in my soul this time. Now I can see the light! Literally! The glorious sunshine hours and the heartwarming sight of new blooms everywhere you turn. And speaking of blooms…Let’s talk about the best feature of spring — your own spring garden!
While I generally like my home organization to run like clockwork, my spring garden is where I put all of my excitement and watch things grow in beautiful chaos! Mostly because I always plan at the last minute. Whether you are a procrastinator or simply sprucing up your knowledge, check out this month’s listicle on how to brighten your spring garden.
1. Start with a Spring Cleaning – A Good Raking Goes a Long Way
This may seem obvious to the seasoned gardener, but you really can’t do anything until you have your beds in ship shape. For my flower beds, this year included raking up leftover leaves (which will come into play in Tip #2). Along with giving your plants a chance, raking also acts as turning the soil and truly shows the entire bed a massive breath of relief. Don’t cut your mulch or fertilizing short by overlooking a quick turndown service. Superstar Bonus: get your kids involved by getting these adorable kids’ rakes.
2. Compost – It’s Not Too Late!
If you have the land available, compost everything! This was a significant goal for me this year because I am so passionate about sustainable living. Banana peels, onion paper, and food scraps → go in the compost heap outside our yard. (Comment if you want me to go into composting!)
Not ready to commit and figure out composting from scratch? Since spring garden cleaning mostly is tidying and raking up, put those man-hours to good use by safely burning those leaves and using those nutrient-rich ashes to nourish your flower beds. We love the Solo Stove company for everything – especially backpacking – so we had to get the sleek Solo Stove firepit.
3. Inventory Your Garden Shed
I know this may seem like a waste of time, but just like checking up on your outside, take a moment to spring garden clean your inside as well! What essential gardening equipment do you have? What is one item that could make your life easier but you keep putting off buying? If you can’t pour the cash into it now, picking one item a season I have found to be much less stressful than everything-is-crashing-and-burning-and-my-garden-will-die-if-I-don’t-spend-
thousands-of-dollars-at-Home-Depot-now. We have ALL had that Home Depot run, so treat your heart rate by getting ahead of it. This year, the item I have treated myself to is this multipurpose wheelbarrow. I put it off and put it off, and my back has already thanked me for it.
4. Prune Your Blueberry Bushes – the How-To
I never knew how to do this Gardening 101 tip, but wow, is it easy to execute. Now that spring blooms are coming in, check out your bushes. It will already be obvious which ones have buds that will bear fruit and which branches have none. Clip the empty branches. It’s that easy. MIND BLOWN. I like this pruning shears kit for beginning gardeners to determine what works best for you and your plants.
5. Rake Your Mulch
Y’all, if you learn nothing else from this listicle, please hear me that your rake is the best secret gardening weapon in your arsenal. Especially if you live in the pacific northwest, midwest, or northeast, you want to rake your mulch to help dry out your beds and warm everything up.
6. Cutting the Canes – How to Prep Your Rose Bushes
My grandmother had a way with rose bushes; I love planting rose bushes to feel close to her. What she seemed to do was magical, but a hometown gardening friend broke down one of Grandma’s magical spells of helping your rose bushes thrive – cutting the canes. Rub the stem of a rose – if it is green, it is alive, and you can let it grow. If not, cut back to where it IS green again. (And if you aren’t feeling so confident on this one, you can wait a teensy bit longer for the bush to start growing leaves and use the same clip-back method as we did for our blueberry bushes. No leaves = snip snip.)
7. Set Up Your Bird Feeders in Your Spring Garden
Make your spring garden a paradise in every way. One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways of creating a healthy ecosystem in your backyard that is also a soothing balm for your soul. I, of course, am talking about encouraging your favorite animal life to come hang around! My mother-in-law feels a special kinship to hummingbirds, so I set out extra hummingbird feeders thinking of her. I’m also a big fan of their pollination stats. Plus, all you need is some sugar and water for those gorgeous fliers to swing by.
8. Get a Planter for Your Spring Garden
I like using raised garden planters like this for my veggies and herbs. The big bonus is moving it into my basement in the fall to keep my herbs, especially my essentials like basil, rosemary, and mint, going year-round.
9. Keep Pests Off Your Food with These Two Things
I’ll be writing an article later this month that tackles summer bugs, but for now, let me say that you have to have this tip for your spring garden. One of the healthiest and safest ways I have found to keep pests from eating anything from my herb garden to tomatoes to cucumbers before I get to taste them is buying a spray bottle and Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap. You spritz up your edibles with 2 tablespoons of soap per half spray bottle. Honestly, there is no healthier and safer way to ensure bugs aren’t devouring your goodies. (It is also truly ludicrous how many uses for Dr. Bronner’s soap my husband has discovered.)
Much as I love Agatha Christie by the fireplace, this is the OTHER kind of plotting. Select what area of your lawn you are going to use, but don’t rush! A tad bit of research goes a long way. Check out different resources from your library, or bust out your Kindle for guides like this to start a vegetable garden. Take it from the experts: certain plants go together, AND you can even reinvigorate the nutrients in the soil by picking a different crop the following year before alternating. (Y’all homegrown Midwesterners and folks from farming communities know what I mean.) Keep it natural, and keep your guidebook handy for next season!
11. To Weed or Not to Weed
This is a hot-button topic. If you are like any of the women of my family, you have yanked out the weeds, and you are ready to KILL, BABY, KILL. You become a spraying fiend and lay the groundwork so as NOT to have a headache in your flowerbeds that keeps you up all night and too frustrated while doing daily maintenance. However, for families sensitive about having kiddos around or people who don’t like using toxins, remember Dr. Bronner’s tip above for your edible plants to keep bugs away and click back when I drop more natural ways of maintaining your garden!
12. Spring Garden Self-Care – Get More Gloves!
Gloves. Gloves gloves gloves. I overlook it every year, but my knuckles can’t take it anymore, and my thumbs would appreciate fewer splinters. I always wear through my gardening gloves. It doesn’t matter how tough they are. My pro-tip: buy 2 pairs so you can slow down the wear-and-tear.
13. Other Protect Yourself Self-Care Reminders
When I typed up the Jackson Hole to Yellowstone Ultimate Itinerary, I never thought about how many items that you would pack on a hiking extravaganza are things you need to remember when you are in your backyard. Simple ways of taking care while gardening include sunscreen (don’t skimp!), bug spray, lotion, and a sun hat. Follow the link to spot my favorite sunscreen and brimmed hat options.
14. Select Lawn Bling
Lawn bling means a lot of different things to different people. Church fundraisers often bust out the flamingo flocks for a laugh around this time of year, but some birds like those suckers year-round. Whether it is a tasteful sign with your family’s name, beautifully carved statues, or even bird fountains and a bench, the sky is the limit! My neighbor’s mom built her own koi pond, so if you want to take on a water feature – research and go for it! Take a moment to remember that your garden space should include the kind of haven that helps you relax.
15. Get Your Team Involved!
Gardening is hours of labor… if you let it be. Make this a JOYFUL hobby, no matter what!
If you are a solo gardener
Go forth and rock on! However, you might have unexpected teammates like a pet (don’t forget to bring out their water bowls and keep them cool) or a neighbor you like to surprise with a homegrown flower or a sampling of a tomato-basil-mozzarella salad. Reap your rewards with STYLE.
If you’re gardening with a partner
Try a challenge! If one of you is more involved in the other, maybe pick one little spot for each of you to tend while sharing the load for the rest of the yard work. If you are competitive like my sister with her blueberry bushes, you’ll get a sweet treat.
Gardening with Kids
the best thing you can do is keep them out with you early and keep them with you often (with water, cool sunscreen, and hat protection in mind). There is no better way to instill a lifelong love and bond with nature than giving your kid a water bucket that is THEIR size to follow you around as you name each plant and remark how it grows with each stage. What if you are doing some hard weeding? Get them a pair of gloves or set them on different projects like creating garden cairns. If you have as many earthworms as we do, your kid(s) will have more to keep their attention than an iPad ever could.
Stay hydrated and happy gardening!