8 Simple Steps to Prepare your Garden for Spring

Planting is easy with the right plan.

Preparing your garden for the growing season is easy – stock up on gear and supplies, plan for what you want to grow and where, and set a start date. But what’s the most effective way to go about all that?

We talked over our gardens, listened to the experts, and came up with some steps (and tips) to success.

  1. Prune trees and shrubs

Getting your garden ready for spring starts with a detailed clean-up of your plants.

  • Use sharp, sterilized shears, loppers, or a saw to cut away dead or damaged growth, remove crossing branches, and shape plants.
  • Prune fruit trees 6-12 weeks before your last frost date, ideally after the coldest temperatures have passed but before buds have formed.
  • Most shrubs and roses can be pruned around this time, too.
  1. Check tools and equipment

Care for your gardening gear before the growing season begins with a quick inspection.

  • Repair or replace broken tools.
  • Wash tools with mild soap and warm water, hosing down larger equipment like rakes and shovels.
  • Use a wire brush, damp cloth, and mineral oil to clean wooden handles and keep them from splintering.
  1. Inventory seeds and supplies

You can’t start the new season without checking what you saved from last season.

  • Seeds can be viable for years, so don’t rebuy good seeds you still have in stock.
  • Organize your seeds, take a paper inventory, and cull any seeds you’re not interested in growing this year.
  • Donate seeds, share them with friends, or trade them with fellow gardeners for extra variety.
  1. Plan your garden

You’ve pruned your plants and got your seeds and tools ready. Now how will you use them?

  • Ask yourself what you want to plant, where you’ll plant, and when your garden needs to get started.
  • Consider the hardiness zone, sun exposure, soil type, and growth habits of your plants and the habitat you’ll put them in.
  • Consider colors and leaf patterns once your plants are in bloom or when plants may need to be harvested to avoid future issues.
  1. Order seeds and plant starts

Once you have a garden plan, it’s time to buy the most important part: the plants.

  • If you prefer to shop in person, stop by your local plant shops, nurseries, and garden centers.
  • If you want to stay indoors, you can order seeds and plant starts online, too.
  • Local vendors will likely stock varieties that do well for your growing zone, so we recommend starting there.
  1. Clean up garden beds and planters

As planting time draws near, the time comes to tidy up.

  • Remove fallen sticks, leaves, dead vegetation, and other debris.
  • Look for old plant tags, broken stakes, missing tools, and trash that has blown into your garden.
  • Take your time: this step is key to success.
  1. Prepare your soil

Now that your garden is clean, you can get the ground ready a few weeks before planting.

  • Rake off any mulch you may have used to cover the soil for winter and replace it with fresh mix and compost.
  • Pull any weeds that may have sprung up early.
  • Using organic compost? Then experts recommend using a no-till approach to your garden.
  1. Start seeds indoors

This is one of the best ways to save money when planting your garden.

  • Check seed catalogs and packets for when to start seeds indoors versus directly sowing them in your garden and any special treatment needed.
  • Know the “days to maturity” number, which will help you determine when your plants should be ready to harvest based on the date you plant them.
  • Make sure to add extra time to harden off seedlings before you plant them in your garden.