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Spring is here!

And with flowers blooming, birds singing, and a new and lovely warmth pervading the air, it’s time to head outdoors and begin gardening again.

But before you start digging, your garden is going to need a little refurbishing after the long winter months. Getting your garden back in shape involves more than just sticking a few new plants in the ground, though—if you want to start your spring garden right, there are a few essential steps you’ll need to take.

Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do to make your spring garden shine.

Preparation

A good garden takes some prep, and taking the time to do it properly sets the stage for a beautiful garden.

You’ll need to make sure you have your essential gardening tools—a weeder, a soil knife, pruning shears, water hoses and wands, a compact shovel, a rake, a small pruning saw, a hoe, and, of course, your favorite gardening hat to shield you from the sun. Other tools you may want include gloves and a kneeling pad for comfort.

If this is your first time creating a garden, section off the area you’d like to work in—it’s a good idea to line the perimeter with stones or something else that will help remind you of its boundaries so that you won’t accidently step on any poor seedlings.

Once you’re all suited up, it’s time to get to work.

Out With the Old

The remains of last year’s garden, old mulch, and any detritus that may have collected are an impediment to new growth, so it’s time to remove it!

Break out your rake and clean away dead vegetation from your garden’s surface, and get rid of any weeds that might have taken root. Be sure to use your weeder or soil knife to fully remove the roots or stumps of these weeds—you don’t want them growing back and crowding out desirable plants.

Once finished, you should have a nice, blank canvas upon which you can work!

Rejuvenate the Soil

Winter is a cold time, and especially in early spring, the soil may still be very dry and nutrient-deficient from the effects of these low temperatures. You’ll need to add moisture before you can begin growing anything.

To do this, add some compost to your garden!

Begin by determining how much compost your soil actually needs. If the earth is dry and light-colored, you’ll need 4 to 6 inches of compost. If it’s darker, you’ll only need 1 to 3 inches.

After you add this, you’ll need to dig into and loosen the soil of your garden up to a depth of at least 12 inches. In the end, you should have a good 12 inches of loose soil mixed with your compost—this loose soil will allow your plants to more easily put down roots.

Once you’ve readied your patch of soil, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Add Mulch

Adding mulch to your garden is essential for preventing the growth of weeds, maintaining soil moisture, and keeping the soil at a constant temperature. Don’t skimp!

Organic mulch is recommended. Although it needs to be replaced every so often, it enriches the soil as it decomposes. Drier, woodier composts take longer to go through the decomposition process, and bequeath fewer nutrients than composts made of shredded leaves, newspaper, or straw.

When choosing a mulch, consider also how you would like your garden to look—mulch comes in all colors and textures, so choose one that is not only functional, but pleasing to your eye.

Once you choose, add 1 to 3 inches of mulch to the surface of your garden, and you’ll have very little weeding to do this summer. Easy!

Get Planting

Now for the fun!

Once everything is ready, it’s time to do what you came here to do—planting those lovely spring plants.

Decide on the feel you want for your garden. Do you want things you can eat later on? Do you want unbridled beauty? Do you want simplicity? What colors do you want?

This is the perfect time to perform some research and figure out your own garden personality, but here are a few recommendations to get you started this spring.

Pansies and snapdragons both grow well in the spring, as do lilacs and tulips—all of these are colorful and lovely additions to any flower garden.

If it’s edibles you’re after, you can plant lettuce, peas, arugula, onions, potatoes, artichokes, and even tomatoes right now. You can also try herbs like greek oregano, dill, and Italian basil.

Because every plant requires different planting methods, be sure to read the directions on your seed packets—follow these carefully for the best results.

If this is your first garden and you’re not sure what you want, try a wide variety of plants. Have fun with it—there’s no limit to what you can grow!

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