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“Spring is nature’s way of saying let’s party.” — Robin Williams

It’s chore time! Stepping back into the garden after a long, harsh winter can be overwhelming, but it is also a time of relief. Even with a winter chill still in the air, there are plenty of tasks to start handling now if you want to get your garden in party-ready shape by the time the temperatures rise.

We have compiled a list of things that you can do now to prepare your garden (and yourself!) for a sensational summer!

  1. SURVEY YOUR GARDEN

First, look up and assess the trees. Make note of tree limbs that should be removed or cabled, especially those that overhang structures. Hire an arborist to maintain large trees. Next, assess the mid-level. Cut down last year’s perennial foliage, and toss it into the compost pile. Then, the ground plane: Rake mulch from beds planted with bulbs before foliage appears, and refresh mulch in other planting areas after soil warms. Lastly, give a good once-over to all your hardscaped areas: Check fences, steps, and pathways for disrepair.

  1.  FILL IN THE GAPS

Choose new plants for any parts of the garden that feel bare. Order perennials, trees, and shrubs for spring planting. People don’t often realize that nurseries are happy to special order varieties you’re after that they might not otherwise have in stock.

2. LAWN KICKSTART

If you have grass, spring is an important time to turn your attention to your turf. Scarify and dethatch the lawn. Follow this by aerating the soil. Service the mower and other tools. Clear the lawn of winter debris and look for areas that need reseeding before mowing.

3. PRUNE SHRUBS

Remove dead, damaged, and diseased branches from woody plants. Thin and trim summer-blooming shrubs such as butterfly bush, hydrangea. Prune spring-blooming shrubs and trees after flowering.

4. FEED THE SOIL

It is entirely possible to create a new planting bed where one has not previously existed. What is most important is to dig the soil, adding oxygen and relieving compaction, and then adding amendments-like compost-that will jumpstart the creation of a rich, living soil. Clear the planting area as soon as soil can be worked, removing sod or weeds and debris. Spread a 10cm layer of compost or well-rotted manure and any amendments over soil, and cultivate it to a depth of 20cm with a spading fork. Rake it smooth before planting.

5. FERTILIZE

Your garden is waking up, and it’ll appreciate a little fuel. Apply balanced fertilizer or fish emulsion around trees and shrubs when new growth appears. Spread high-acid fertilizer and pine-needle mulch around acid-loving shrubs like azaleas, camellias, blueberries, or citrus. Begin fertilizing perennials when active growth resumes.

 

6. COMPOST

Start a compost pile, or use a compost bin, if you don’t have one already. Begin by collecting plant debris and leaves raked up from the garden. Find equal amounts “brown” (carbon-rich) materials like dried leaves and straw and “green” (nitrogen-rich) materials like grass clippings and weeds. Chop these up first to speed decomposition.

7. MORE MULCH

Possibly the single easiest thing you can do from both a functional and aesthetic point of view is to give the garden a fresh layer of mulch. A several-inch-thick layer of your favourite mulch, say wood chips, straw, even finished compost, gives everything a clean, tidied-up look, while helping to suppress weeds and retain moisture.