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Preparing Your Garden for Spring with DIY Cleaning Solutions

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Preparing Your Garden for Spring with DIY Cleaning Solutions

Assess the Current State of Your Garden

The first step in preparing your garden for spring is to take stock of what is currently in it. Walk around the entire space and make notes on:

  • Existing plants – Are there any perennials or shrubs that survived the winter? Do they need to be pruned back or otherwise cared for?

  • Weeds and debris – Are there a lot of weeds that need to be pulled? Is there any trash or other debris that needs to be cleared out?

  • Bare spots – Are there areas where plants did not survive the winter or where you want to add something new?

  • Tools and supplies – Do you have all the tools and supplies you will need for spring cleaning and planting? Make a list of anything you need to purchase.

  • Soil condition – Dig in a few spots and examine the soil. Does it need amendments to improve drainage, nutrition, etc?

Clean Up Plant Debris

Once you have assessed the overall status of your garden, the next step is to clean up any dead plant material and weeds from the previous year. Here are some tips:

  • Remove spent annuals and vegetation – Pull or clip away any dead annual plants, fallen leaves, etc.

  • Prune perennials – Use pruning shears or loppers to cut back perennial plants like shrubs and ornamental grasses to remove dead growth and shape them.

  • Weed thoroughly – Pull or dig out as many weeds as possible, including the roots. This will prevent them from spreading further.

  • Add compost or fertilizer – Incorporate compost or organic fertilizer into the soil as you clean up beds. This provides nutrients for the growing season.

  • Edge beds and borders – Use a half moon edger or spade to create crisp edges around planting beds and borders. This gives a tidy, defined look.

Diagnose and Address Any Disease or Pest Problems

As you clean up the garden, keep an eye out for any signs of disease or pests on your plants:

  • Check for insect egg cases – Carefully examine trees, shrubs, and other plants for insect eggs. Destroy any you find to prevent infestation later.

  • Remove damaged plant parts – Prune out any leaves, stems, or branches with disease or infestation and discard them away from the garden.

  • Treat disease outbreaks – If a plant shows signs of blight, black spot, or other diseases, you may need to treat it with a fungicide or remove it entirely.

  • Apply dormant oil spray – Spray trees and shrubs with horticultural oil to suffocate overwintering pests. Pay close attention to instructions.

  • Consider preventative treatments – You may want to apply insecticidal soap or neem oil before pests become active again.

Improve Soil Quality

Your plants will thrive if the underlying soil is healthy. Here are some DIY ways to improve it:

  • Test soil pH – Use an inexpensive soil testing kit to determine your soil’s pH. Adjust accordingly by adding lime to raise or sulfur to lower.

  • Add compost – Incorporate 1-3 inches of finished compost across all your garden beds. Compost improves drainage, nutrients, and beneficial microbes.

  • Apply used coffee grounds – Coffee grounds can increase acidity for plants that prefer lower pH. Sprinkle around acid-loving plants.

  • Try manure tea – Steep manure in water to make a fertilizing tea. Let it brew 1-2 weeks, then dilute and apply around plants.

  • Plant cover crops – Sow nitrogen-fixing cover crops like hairy vetch and clover in empty beds and till them under in spring.

Make Repairs and Improve Infrastructure

Spring is a great time to make upgrades and repairs to your garden’s infrastructure too:

  • Refresh raised beds – Repair, replace, or add new raised beds and fill with enriched soil mix for optimal drainage and nutrients.

  • Sharpen tools – Ensure your pruners, loppers, hoes, and other tools are clean and sharp so they are ready for use in spring planting.

  • Repair fences and trellises – Mend any broken fencing or trellis structures that plants will rely on for support as they grow.

  • Improve irrigation – Address any winter damage to your irrigation system and make upgrades like drip lines or timers to improve watering efficiency.

  • Enhance pathways – Top up gravel or mulch on garden pathways to provide a clean surface to walk on again.

Conclusion

Preparing your garden properly in early spring will pay off all season long with healthier plants, fewer weeds and pests, and improved aesthetics. It takes some work up front, but following these DIY cleaning tips now will make maintenance much easier as spring progresses. Don’t let the garden slip into disarray over winter – with a little time and elbow grease, you can have it thriving again in time for the growing season.

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