13 Essential Landscaping Tips for a Beautiful Spring Garden

Amber Guetebier
Written by Amber Guetebier
Updated January 28, 2022
well landscaped lawn and garden
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Just when it feels like winter will never end, you spot the first spring flower. While this is a joyous event, it also signals it’s time to get your garden in order. From early spring gardening tips to making sure your soil is ready for the growing season, this guide will help you get your landscape in shape for the season.

1. Test Your Soil’s pH

Soil pH has a significant effect on what nutrients are, or aren’t, there for your plants. Spring is the perfect time to check your garden soil’s pH level. You can use a soil testing kit purchased at any garden center or hardware store. They are inexpensive and can be used multiple times. 

Following these landscaping tips to get your garden ready for spring: 

  • The pH scale is from one to 14. 

  • The optimum pH level for most plants is between five and seven. 

  • A seven or higher indicates alkaline soil, which can be balanced with a sulfate, ground sulfur, or garden gypsum.

  • Lower numbers mean the soil is acidic, which can be corrected with garden lime (calcium carbonate).

2. Evaluate Your Soil’s Texture

This is one of the most commonly neglected spring garden tasks, but it’s incredibly easy to do. Essentially, you’re identifying your dirt’s texture (sandy, loamy, or clay).

  • Wet a small patch of dirt and then dry it for a day.

  • Grab a fistful of dirt and squeeze it hard. 

  • If the soil forms a tight ball, you have clay soil. 

  • If it’s loose and crumbly, lucky you, your soil is loamy. 

  • If it doesn’t hold a shape and feels grainy, it’s sandy. 

Loamy soil doesn’t usually need a lot of amending beyond the addition of compost for planting season, but sandy soil will need to be amended with manure, compost, or leaf mulch. Clay soil is heavy and needs to be lightened up with peat, compost, and mulch. 

3. Check Drainage 

Now that the frost has faded, take note of any areas other than your yard that may have pooling water. 

You can also try this tip to make sure your soil is draining properly:

  • Dig a 2-foot deep hole, fill it with water, and let it drain.

  • Once the water has drained, fill the hole again. 

  • If there’s still water in the hole after 12 hours, you may have a drainage problem.

Improve your soil’s drainage by mixing in compost and mulch. For really poor drainage, you may need to till the first 2 feet and amend that. 

4. Apply a Pre-Emergent 

If you want to apply a pre-emergent—an herbicide to prevent weeds—to the soil as part of your garden routine, you can do it in the spring to any area you don’t plan to plant, such as the open space between plants in your perennial bed. 

This can be a smart step before applying bark or other mulch to your beds to keep weeds at bay. Pre-emergents stop both weeds and seeds from growing, so be advised that if you try to start plants from seed in the same area you’ve applied the pre-emergent, they will not germinate for three to five months. 

5. Clean Up Your Beds

woman working in the garden pulling out weeds
Photo: SkyF/ iStock/ Getty Images

Planting is the fun part but before you put anything in your beds, take some of that spring cleaning energy and tidy up your beds. 

Follow these spring landscaping tips to clean up your beds:

  • Rake away mulch.

  • Remove debris and leaves leftover from winter storms. 

  • Give grasses and perennials a trim to remove any dead foliage from last year. 

  • Neaten up borders and shore up any pavers that have moved out of place. 

6. Prune

In addition to trimming up any perennials that are in your beds, take a walk around your yard and trim shrubs and trees before they start to leaf out. This will allow you to shape them before they begin to grow, and encourage new growth. 

7. Start Seeds

Give flower seeds, as well as vegetables and herbs, a head start by germinating them inside in early spring, then transplanting them into your garden once the danger of frost has passed. You can also sow seeds directly into the ground. Some vegetables, such as squash, prefer this. 

8. Fertilize

person using fertilizer for garden
Photo: encierro/ Adobe Stock

Spring is the time to feed ornamental trees, shrubs, and perennials to ensure abundant growth throughout the spring and summer. Not all plants need the same amount, or the same kind, of food, so be sure to read the labels to not overfeed. 

Most plants want a balanced fertilizer for the spring (look for a label where all the numbers are the same, such as a 10-10-10.) Overfeeding can damage plants and burn the leaves, resulting in weak plants that attract pests. 

Mature trees may not need to be fertilized every year. Check with a local tree service to find out if any larger trees on your property are due for a feeding. 

9. Hang a Bee House

Before your garden even starts to bloom, invite the pollinators in. Mason bees, which are one of several species of beneficial bees, build their habitat by creating a mortar of mud over the little cells they build to lay their eggs.

You can buy a mason bee house that has the cells all ready for them to build their nest. Mason bees are pollinators and spread pollen from bloom to bloom, ensuring your garden will be show-stoppingly beautiful when summer comes around.

10. Inspect Irrigation

If you’ve winterized your irrigation system, you’ll want to make sure it’s in working order before the weather gets warm again. Give your sprinkler system a check-up before summer hits. 

Turn on the water to your outside spigot and test your irrigation to make sure there are no leaks or cracks. If you have a drip irrigation system, check for holes and leaks and do a simple repair. 

You can also hire a landscape irrigation company near you to give your system a once-over before you need it. 

11. Tend to Your Lawn 

Spring lawn care has its own checklist of to-dos to ensure a beautiful, lush patch of grass for the summer. 

Use these spring landscaping tips to get your lawn in tip-top shape: 

  • Rake and remove thatch.

  • Reseed and repair your lawn. 

  • Fertilize or apply a “weed and feed.” 

  • Check your mower and make sure it’s ready for the season. 

12. Do Some Planting

woman planting new flowers in garden
Photo: maryviolet/ Adobe Stock

This is the fun part! Spring is the time to add new plants to give them plenty of time to establish.

These landscaping tips will help you plant a beautiful spring garden:

  • Look at any gaps in your landscaping and order new perennials to fill in. 

  • Divide existing perennials and transplant them. 

  • Plant summer flowering bulbs. 

  • Spring is a great time to plant bare-root trees. 

  • Buy annuals for containers and to fill in gaps as perennials grow. 

  • Get vegetable starts or plant early season seeds in your veggie garden.

13. Mulch 

Once you’ve planted new perennials, lay down a layer of mulch such as wood chips or shredded bark. This will not only help your beds look neat, but it will also keep weeds under control and help plants retain moisture.

If you need a hand with your yard work, contact a local gardening professional to help you with spring planting, yard cleanup, lawn repair, and more. 

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