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Spring gardening checklist

Posted May 14, 2008
Updated April 29, 2009

Spring is on the way, and warm weather is beginning to peek around the corner, inviting us outdoors and begging gardeners to get their hands dirty. But unless you live in a tropical climate, there is still plenty of freezing weather to come, so don't get ahead of yourself! Resist the urge to set out new plants, and use this promising season to pay a visit to your garden and tend to what's already there.

1. Give your shrubs a makeover. This is a good time to prune shrubs, except for those that bloom in the spring. Remove any deadwood and encourage the shrub's natural shape.

2. Complete that “Honey-Do” list. Finish building that trellis, raised bed, or stepping-stone path you started last fall. Inspect your garden for any needed structural repairs.

3. Clear out the rubbish! Remove debris from drainage ditches, gutters, and planting beds. Clear unwanted brush and undergrowth. Cut back dead foliage on last year's perennials and ornamental grasses before new growth starts.

4. Make use of all that trash. Turn your compost pile, or start one now.

5. Be proactive. Get rid of weeds as they sprout, and go ahead and take measures to protect your garden from pests.

6. Feed the ground. Once your soil is dry enough, amend your planting beds by “top-dressing” with a couple of inches of compost or your favorite organic mix.

7. Dress it up (and protect) with mulch. Even out your mulch with a rake to a depth of 2 to 4 inches and add more if needed. In colder climates, lightly cover early bulb shoots to protect them from a hard freeze.

8. Spring-clean the potting shed. Give your gardening tools a good oiling, sharpening, and tune-up. Clean out empty flower pots, and dispose of any unused or broken ones. Old clay pots can be broken up to use for drainage in container gardens.

9. Take care of our feathered friends. Clean out and inspect birdhouses and feeders.

10. Don't forget the lawn. Early spring is a great time for correcting and reseeding the lawn. Hold off on disturbing the soil, or heavy raking, if the ground is still frozen.

11. Move it indoors. Start seeds indoors for later planting in the garden. Repot houseplants if needed, and prune any dead foliage or overgrowth.

12. Plan and dream! Spend these first days of spring in your garden making plans for the coming year. As you enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and emerging birds, indulge in the excitement that only spring can bring. Spring is the season of possibility and renewal, so inspect your garden with a critical eye and an open mind—what is it asking you to do this year?

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