Getting your hands in the soil in the early spring isn’t just good for the plants and beds, it’s also a good spring tonic for those who have spent an entire winter indoors. The fresh air is good for your health, as is the exercise of bending, carrying, pruning, raking, planting, and weeding.
First thing’s first: clean out the beds. The winter wind and snow has likely left your beds full of leaves and sticks, so take the time to pick up debris and rake the areas where you’ll plant. Then, trim back old plants and grasses but not too harshly until after the threat of frost. “Dead” organic matter on plants can protect emerging buds.
This is a good time to divide plants like hostas and daylilies; bulbs like tulips and daffodils should be done long after blooming, such as in the early fall.
If ground seems depleted and compacted, this is the time to add manure or compost, then top those layers with mulch. When applying mulch, rather than dumping it directly from the garden store’s bag to the ground, take the time to put the mulch in a pile or wheelbarrow, then spread with a loose rake. This allows you to “sprinkle” the mulch over emerging plants rather than dousing them with a large and heavy heap. Another way to make mulch placement “pop” is to edge beds with an edger or sharp shovel.
If broken fences or trellises are evident, fix them and paint with a fresh coat of paint (after temperatures stabilize about 50 degrees). If you have bowed or broken raised beds, now is a good time to re-stake and repair them.
Enjoy this time of year; your plants will certainly be grateful for your time and attention.