Spring Garden Tips

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Happy first day of spring! I’m excited. Spring ushers in a time of renewal and birth and heralds the coming of warmer weather and longer days. For once, the fickle Missouri weather matched the approaching season. Sunshine and warm temps filled the days, encouraging me to get outside.

And my favorite outdoor activity this time of year? Tending to the garden.

I love seeing the first stirrings of life in my backyard paradise. It signals the return of colorful flowers, fragrant herbs and tall, waving ornamental grasses.

But first, tidying up is a must in March, after the garden’s long winter nap.

Check out these spring garden tips, to prep for the glory ahead.

Spring Garden Tips


Clear Away Debris

After months of cold, wind, rain and a bit of snow, the garden looks a bit bedraggled. The ornamental grasses droop along the fence row. Last summer’s flower stalks, which look beautiful contrasted against snow on the ground, can at last come down. And somehow, in spite of a six foot privacy fence encircling the yard, trash blows in.

As Greg and I survey the garden area, we pick up trash, cut down dry stalks and mentally take note of stray ornamental grass starts that need to be dug up.

Action step: Clear away garden debris including last year’s dead plants, dry stalks, leaves and any trash carried in by the wind.

Spring Garden TipsThe garden is a mess this time of year.

Trim Back Ornamental Grasses

Even during the winter months, ornamental grasses add interest to the garden. The stalks and tassels turn golden, providing color on gray, dreary days.

As the weather warms, the stalks need to be trimmed back, to six to eight inches above the ground. This allows fresh growth to appear. And trust me, the new stalks will quickly grow and fill back in.

We use an electric hedge trimmer to accomplish this spring garden task quickly and easily. The trimmed stalks go into a large metal barrel, for burning.

Action step: Trim back ornamental grasses. Burn the stalks or dispose of them via a trash dumpster. Don’t use them for mulch, as the seeds from the tassels will germinate.

Spring Garden TipsTrimmed ornamental grass clump. Cut back to 6 – 8  inches above ground.

Spring Garden TipsMetal burning barrel. The cover from the firepit keeps flaming debris from leaving the barrel. We keep a garden hose nearby, just in case.

Get a Head Start on Weeds

Everyone’s least favorite garden task is pulling weeds. It is an absolute necessity however. Not only are weeds unsightly, they crowd flowers, veggies and herbs, stealing their nourishment.

It’s early yet for most weeds. But not for eliminating ornamental grass starts that pop up all over the garden. It’s not difficult to remove these plants while they are tiny. It becomes a much bigger task if they’ve been left to grow.

I had quite a collection of starts, ranging in size from miniscule to large clumps. We noted the larger grasses last fall, and left them until spring clean up. Greg graciously removed the bigger grasses and clumps, while I dug up the smaller ones. After recent heavy rains, the small grass starts came up easily.

At the same time, I removed a couple of small tree starts and tackled clumps of dead crab grass. Greg used the weed eater to knock down dead grasses in the corners of the yard and along the edges of flower borders and beds.

Action step: Walk the garden area and inspect beds and borders for dry weeds and early starts. Spend a few minutes each day, walking the garden and pulling up weeds as they appear.

Spring Garden TipsRemoving a tiny ornamental grass start.

Check Soil

Before the garden begins to fill in, enrich the soil. Organic material like compost or manure adds moisture and much needed nutrients. My garden is six years old. Reworking the soil and adding compost nourishes the plants that are returning and gives new plants a great start.

We have a couple of places in the garden that hold too much water, creating boggy areas. Organic matter and peat moss worked into the soil will help to balance out those areas, creating better drainage.

Action step: Add organic matter to the garden if it is more than a couple of years old, to revitalize it. Balance out dry or boggy areas.

Spring Garden Tips

Spring Garden Tips for Mid Season

As the season progresses, these tasks will complete garden prep:

  • Plan out new beds and borders
  • Plant hardy annuals in containers and beds
  • Plant bulbs
  • Transplant seeds if they were started indoors
  • Plant cool weather veggies such as lettuce, cabbage and peas
  • Prune early flowering bushes, after they flower

Action step: This is the fun part, after days of cleaning up the garden and prepping for new plants. Take time to think about what you want to add to the garden this year. Visit nurseries. Tour other gardens. Check out Pinterest or browse online for ideas.

Spring Garden TipsLemon balm showing up in the garden. I’m excited to have my first cup of  freshly brewed lemon balm tea.

Spring Garden Tips for Late Season

Beyond the threat of frost, typically mid April to early May in most of the US, complete these tasks:

  • Cut back stems after bulbs bloom
  • Check garden for empty spots
  • Fill in with annuals and perennials
  • Plant herbs
  • Plant vegetables. Try out a raised bed garden.
  • Mulch with 2 – 3 inches of organic material such as cedar. Mulch helps to hold in moisture and prevents weeds and disease.

Action step: This is the time to bring winter dreams into reality. What do you want to add to your garden? Now is the time to do so. My garden changes every year, as I add to it. This year my intention is to rework the Apothecary Garden and add more herbs.

Spring Fever

I love this season and being outdoors. The garden is slowing awakening. New growth is appearing. Right now, it looks rather bleak. But I know. I know that just beneath the surface, life is stirring and soon my garden will fill with colors and scents.

In a couple of months, the garden transforms from this…

Spring Garden Tips

…to this! What a remarkable change.

Spring Garden Tips

Every task, every weed pulled, every plant tucked into the ground, is worth the effort. This backyard garden is, indeed, my paradise.

Backyard Garden Series

Check the other posts in this gardening series:

Ecological Garden Hacks

Growing Clematis Babies

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

10 Low Maintenance Annuals to Grow

DIY Natural Mosquito Repellent


Try out these essential gardening supplies and tools! Just click on the picture to view product.



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56 Replies to “Spring Garden Tips”

  1. Starting a big garden has always been a dream of mine. Someday when I have my own place! Thanks for the tips, I am saving for the future 🙂

    1. It was my dream for years too. Finally the opportunity to make it a reality arrived. I know yours will show up too!

  2. Yay!! I still have three feet of snow on mine so I’m patiently waiting. I did plant all my tomoatoes and peppers for starts. And I have to put up my green house.

    1. I’m sure we aren’t quite done with cooler temps here in Missouri. But this week has teased us with what’s coming soon!

  3. I have been wanting to reconfigure and replant the garden at our family home for a while and this article is getting me back to thinking about it. Spring will be there later in the year so I have some time to plan exactly what needs to be done.

    1. Wonderful! Planning is a fun aspect of gardening. I’m busy expanding my herb garden…on paper first!

  4. Oh I am so looking forward to this! It is SUPER wet here right now but once the snow is gone and dries out a bit I am on it! Thanks for the tips!

  5. This is a great list! I have not gardened in a few years, but am making a garden this season. I have never really thought of checking the quality of the soil. I will have to do that this year! Thanks!

    1. Thank you! I check for soggy areas and dry areas and watch for mold. A good manure or compost, available in bags at a garden center, helps.

  6. Your backyard garden really is a paradise! How inspiring! We are still feet deep in snow up here in northern MN, but I am really looking forward to gardening soon!

  7. What a great info Cindy! We don’t have a garden yet as we just moved in to our house but we’re planning to landscape it this year. Your tips will come in handy! Thank you…tc

  8. I grew up in the family that was living a farm life back in my country. But gardening was not my favorite at the time. Although now I feel like gardening is a sort of meditation. It is so calming and fulfilling. Thank you for sharing these great tips.

  9. I have a little tiny garden that my husband built for me. I have not done anything with it after that first year. Work got crazy and life changed. My planting time has already passed. Need to get on it next year.

    1. Planning and planting are so fun. My favorite part is sitting in the garden toward sunset, surrounded by beauty and scents and butterflies and bees. Paradise. 😊

  10. SO glad you included before and after photos! It’s daunting when you see the mess in front of you but knowing the beauty that awaits makes it tolerable and even exciting to trudge through the not fun part.

  11. It was fun to read about what you do! I’m obsessed with houseplants and I don’t think outdoor gardening will ever be my thing, but as a plant lover it’s fun to see how other’s take care of their gardens.

    1. I’ve always had a thing for growing plants. I was influenced I think by a grandfather and aunt who loved gardening!

  12. I hate gardening… But I wish I didn’t! I was just hanging out in my backyard watching my 3-year-old play and thinking, “Wow… This looks bad…”

    1. It’s not everyone’s thing! Maybe get your little one involved if you decide to try gardening and just do one simple project at a time!

  13. I can’t wait to focus on my yard – it is the one thing that seems to take a back seat each year. This post is starting to motivate me a bit – maybe this year is the year my yard looks its best!

  14. I have a black thumb, so I don’t garden…but I love beautiful flowers and greenery etc. I’m thankful my hubby is good at it and he keeps our yard looking nice. We don’t have seasons here in AZ, so it’s very easy to maintain. Someday, I would like to try my hand at an herb garden! Your backyard turns into something beautiful at spring! Thanks for sharing!!

  15. Amazing transformation! Nothing like growing your own fruits and veg to enjoy! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  16. Aaah – such a beautiful time of year. Time to get out of the house and start working on that yard! Enjoy the sunshine and here’s hoping your garden is a success this year!

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