How to Get Your Soil Ready
The soil is warm, the tools are out of storage, sharpened and ready to go and the nursery shelves are filled with beautiful plants. It’s time to garden! Well, almost. To give your new plants and emerging perennials a solid foundation for this season, take some time now to prep your garden soil.
What To Do with Weeds: Depending on your zone, the harshness of the winter and the weed population of your garden in late autumn, you may find weeds greeting you this spring. Be diligent in removing all weeds as early in the season as possible. Some early spring/winter weeds have seeds that ‘jump’ when the plant is touched. Pulling or treating for weeds before they go to seed will save you much time and aggravation down the road.
Clean and Tidy the Beds: Cut back spent stems, fern fronds and leaves from evergreen plants, anything that added winter interest to the garden, like grasses, that will be sending up new growth soon and remove any sticks, branches and other debris that has found its way into the garden.
Some Edgy Business: Give your beds a clean sharp edge now, while you have the time and before you are distracted with new plants and emerging bulbs and perennials.
Tread Lightly! There is no reason to compress your well-developed soil by walking in the beds. The less compacted your soil is the better. If the soil is a bit tight from snow and ice depending on where you live, use a long handled tool to loosen the surface. Be gentle, you don’t want to disturb emerging bulbs and perennials. Also, think of your healthy soil as a living organism, a complete ecosystem with each thin layer playing a vital role in the overall health of the garden; the less it is disturbed the better.
Dress it Up! Replenish mulch and top dress with a layer of compost, when the soil has a chance to dry out and is not water logged. Do not mound the mulch around the base of trees and shrubs. Volcano mulching is a big no-no! Reserve some mulch for areas of the garden where you plan to add more plants. There is no need to mulch, move the mulch to plant and then re-mulch!
Maintenance Check: Now is the time to check for leaks and faulty sprinkler heads in your underground irrigation system. Make sure all hoses (porous and non-porous) and sprinklers are in proper working order.
Helpful Hint: Check your compost bin! Winter may have compacted the material in your compost bins, making it difficult if not impossible for air to circulate. Fluff or stir your compost bins to allow for proper water drainage and air circulation to stimulate decomposition.