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Essential Garden To-Do List for Spring

Ah, Spring. Finally, after a long winter (especially this year), it’s nice to be able to bare some skin, go for more walks and feel the sun starting to warm up. And if you’re anything like me on walks, I’m sure you’re scoping out all the gardens and fields in the area, noticing all the brown grass slowly start to take back some life, and the early flowers trying to get their start. When gardening in a climate with harsh winters it can feel like there’s a lot to do in Spring in order to achieve that eye-catching garden bed. But no need to be overwhelmed, all the essential duties are simplified and listed below so you can get your garden off to a good start!


RAKE – any debris and white threads in grass (snow mold) with a fan rake once the ground is dry enough as you don’t want to compact the lawn.

APPLY – a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients to ensure a healthy, green lawn. Check product details for recommended rate. Apply early in spring and then again periodically.

LAY – sod as soon as there’s a very low risk for deep frost. That way it has enough time to establish before the stressful heat of summer.

PREPARE – soil site for seeds in early spring and then spread seeds mid-spring. Keep well watered after seeding.

MOW – lawns at maximum lawnmower height. Mow new grass once it reaches 6cm in height and make sure you don’t mow the grass very short. You only want to give it a little haircut.

TIDY – lawn edges and remove any dead grass to be replaced with new seed.


PLANT – climbing plants, hedges, shrubs and train them against a structure or into the desired shape.

PRUNE – according to the species of climber or shrub. Most evergreen climbers and wall shrubs will require a light trimming after frosts are over, however, there is no one size fits all advice when it comes to pruning and I plan to cover this topic in more detail very soon. I will link the post when I complete it.

STAKE – any shrubs or trees that require it.


PLANT – hardy perennials, summer bulbs, and container-grown evergreens. Transplant any seedlings into the grown once the risk for frost is gone.

THIN – clump-forming perennials before they grow to full size to prevent them from becoming straggly.

WATER – newly planted species regularly (without soaking!), especially if the weather is dry.

PRUNE – established roses, and deciduous shrubs before they start their new growth. Prune newly planted shrubs. Only prune after the risk of frost is gone. More specific pruning instructions for flowering plants such as hydrangea to come in a post very soon.

REPLENISH – gravel beds with some new surface stones and care for any damaged plant stalks by removing anything dead.

DEADHEAD – spring flowering plants and bulbs unless the spent flowers are visually interesting. Allow the foliage to run its course. Take your pruners, or using your fingers, pinch off spent flowers at their base.

FERTILIZE – before the plants get the chance to really start growing with a slow-release fertilizer. Apply fertilizer to gravel beds if they appear to sluggish in growth and flowering.

MULCH – beds that did not have anything applied the previous fall and around trees.

STAKE – plants that grow tall and risk falling over.

CUTTINGS – from softwood plants may be taken at this time.


WATER – regularly and check in on them regardless of conditions.

DEADHEAD – spring blooms frequently to keep them vigorous.

WEED – as often as needed, check for weeds when you go to water.

TOP DRESS – or repot any containers from the previous year.

PINCH PRUNE – plants to train them to become more bushy or alternatively you can turn them into standards by leaving them with a single dominant stem and bushy top (like a tree). Use your pointer finger and thumb to pinch out soft new growth to shape the plant. Try not to over-do it so that you don’t negatively affect the plants flowering.

There you have it! A quick, fool-proof guide to not pissing off your plants first thing this Spring season. I hope this helps gets you motivated to start your growing season off right!


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