The weather has actually started to warm up enough that the frost is coming out of the ground which means now is the perfect time to start preparing your garden and yard for spring. The soil is becoming soft, workable and will soon dry out enough to safely plant seedlings and starter plants; but there are a couple things you must do to ensure a healthy and bountiful garden throughout summer and into late fall.
Clean and Repair
Once all of the snow and ice has melted you can clean up any leaves and debris that accumulated over the winter season. This mushy muck can make it hard for water to properly drain which could cause overly wet plants and grass. This could lead to bigger issues of uneven and bumpy ground, rotting plants and a stench that cant be forgotten. Also, make sure to rake the lawn to remove any dead grass and debris from the surface to increase air flow and better water drainage.
After the entire yard is cleaned from debris you will then be able to see where any repairs are needed. Fix or replace raised beds that have succumbed to the soggy spring melt and adjust or realign trellises that are leaning or have shifted. Check all stakes to make sure they are still in good condition and remain sturdy. These structures and supports are the base for your garden and if they are subpar, your garden will not thrive.
If all garden structures are in tip top shape you will have a garden that thrives with more than just flowers. You may start to see early spring weeds that seem to pop up over night. Dig these out as soon as you notice them as they will be easier to remove and you will be able to stay on top of it.
Once the soil has dried enough you will be able to prepare your garden. Mulch any bare spots to reduce weeds and add a top layer of highly nutritious compost or well seasoned manure. Don't be concerned with turning the soil and mixing the compost with the underlying layers as the nutrients will naturally work down and through the soil. This will act as slow release plant food which will feed plants for a long time. You may also want to consider adding lime to your soil if the PH level is below 6.2
This next step can be completed before or after the soil has been properly prepared. Thin dried foliage, remove dead plants and prune out dead or damaged branches. Clean back as much as you can without damaging the plant or any new growth. You can also transplant any plants that you would like to move before they start branching out. Doing this right before the growing season will mean less chance of damage.
Start planting early cool weather seedlings to get a jump start on the season but remember to protect these plants from frost. You can place anything over top the plant at night like a paper bag, cardboard box or a bucket if you don't have a seedling greenhouse. Don't plant if your soil is still soaking wet as seedlings will survive much better if there is adequate drainage.