8 Essential Spring Gardening Tasks to Get Your Garden Ready

Spring is a magical time in the garden, filled with the promise of new growth and abundant harvests. As the temperatures begin to rise and the days lengthen, it’s the perfect opportunity to prepare your garden for the upcoming growing season. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting, here are eight spring gardening tasks to tackle to ensure your garden thrives this spring.

Spring Gardening Tasks

1. Know Your Hardiness Zone

When you plant your garden depends on where you’re located. USDA Hardiness Zones break up the different regions to help gardeners know when and what to plant. This is dependent on the temperatures of the area. Gardeners who are in a Hardiness Zone of  8 and above enjoy longer growing seasons than those further up north who have long, cold winters. The heat during the summer can be a bit much for southern gardeners, so we’re limited during that time while the north is thriving. Before you start your spring garden, it’s important to know what Hardiness Zone you’re located in. If you’re not sure, check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. The picture below is from their site. Here in Central Florida, my Hardiness Zone is 9b.

plant hardiness zone

Know What Varieties to Grow

Did you know that vegetables come in different varieties? For example, there are many different varieties of tomatoes. Some can handle the cooler weather, while others can handle the warmer weather. Some can handle humidity, while others are more sensitive. And there are many different flavors – some smoky, some fruity. To know what varieties do well in your Hardiness Zone you can check with your local Extension Office. They typically offer growing guides on their sites, though you sometimes have to hunt for them. This can help a lot when you prepare your vegetable garden for the spring. Here is one that shows Florida vegetable varieties.

Know When to Plant and Where

You may have to do some digging on your Local Extension Office website, but they should have some guides on what months are the best for you to plant your vegetables. If you find yourself in Zone 9b, then the following guides should help you to know when to plant, and what varieties to plant. These were modified from my local Florida Extension Office to include a little extra information to help assist you with your gardening. But feel free to experiment. Every year there’s slightly different weather, and even if you’re located in the city vs. the country will play a factor. The most important thing is to know your first and last frost date.

2. Plan Your Garden Bed Layout

Once you know what you’re growing and when you’re growing it, you can start designing your garden layout to prepare your vegetable garden for the spring. I love using my Garden Planner to sketch out my garden layout and track everything. I usually go through a few different iterations before I decide on my final plan for the season. I use square foot gardening for my garden beds and I also grow a lot in pots. Drawing out my garden layout also helps me remember what I planted, and if I want to use the same design next year.

spring garden planning

3. Purchase and Start Seeds

When starting your garden you can start from seeds or plants. I recommend seeds for a few reasons, but it depends on what you’re doing and what you want. Ultimately, your garden is your creation, and you should do what’s most true to you. That being said, I typically opt for seeds because I love to watch the whole lifecycle of my plants. Because I have multiple garden beds I plant a decent amount every year and seeds are cheaper. I have also found it is sometimes a challenge to transplant plants from local garden centers. Some don’t transplant well, like squash. If you’re interested in growing herbs, I find they transplant easily. You may even find better success growing them from plants. Not to mention you won’t have to wait to start benefiting from them.

If you decide to purchase seeds, I recommend looking at Botanical Interests. They have a wide selection of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers that you might not find at big-box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. They also have a lot of heirloom and organic seeds. I’ve found their seeds to be very reliable when it comes to germination rates so I can’t say enough good things about them!

4. Clean Your Garden Beds

To prepare your vegetable garden for the spring season, you’ll want to do is to clean your garden beds. If you were growing any plants during winter and they died, you’ll want to pull them up. You’ll also want to remove and weeds or fallen fruit that might be in your garden.

weeding for the spring

It’s important to get rid of any weeds that you may find in your garden. Not only can weeds be unattractive, but they also deplete your soil and plants with important nutrients. Because weeds grow quickly they can overtake what you’re trying to grow. They can absorb water faster and grow tall enough to block your plants from getting sunlight. This is especially significant when your plants are still small.

5. Prepare Your Soil

Once you’ve tidied up your garden you can start assessing your soil. You’ll want to make sure you have high-quality soil to prepare your vegetable garden for the spring season. When you grow plants, they absorb the nutrients and minerals that are in your soil. Over time, this depletes your soil. You can add those nutrients back to your soil and make it an ideal growing environment by adding compost, checking your pH levels, and adding additional amendments as you see fit.

organic fertilizerAdd Compost

Before a growing season, you should add two inches of compost to your garden bed and mix it in. You can purchase it or make your own compost. Composting is one of the best ways to feed your garden and keep your garden soil healthy. By making your own you can use basic kitchen scraps that you’d throw away otherwise. If you’re interested to see if making your own compost is right for you, check out Composting for a Backyard Garden.

If you opt to purchase a bag of compost to prepare your vegetable garden for the spring, I recommend Black Kow. It’s a 50lb bag you can purchase from Lowe’s. You can get it at Lowe’s for around $6. I typically use two of these bags for a 4’x8′ raised garden bed.

Check Your Soil pH Levels

Depending on where you’re at in your gardening journey, you may want to check your soil pH levels. While pH levels are important, if you’re adding compost and not planting the same vegetable in the same spot year after year you should be ok. But if your curiosity gets the best of you, or you’ve noticed a trend with your plants not being successful, you may want to try testing your soil pH levels. A soil meter can give you an idea of how acidic or alkaline your soil is. Different plants like different levels. To learn more about testing your soil pH levels and to see a list of optimal pH levels for different vegetables, check out Testing Your Soil pH Levels.

Add Additional Amendments

Once you know your soil pH levels you can add additional amendments to your soil. While composting should help quite a bit, you can add other supplements. I garden organically, so I avoid fertilizers with harmful and toxic chemicals. Some additional amendments you can use to prepare your vegetable garden for the spring include used coffee grounds, worm castings, blood meal, and bone meal.

  • Coffee Grounds: While any used coffee grounds will do, these do happen to be my favorite. Cappuccino drinker here. :) Used coffee grounds are a good organic amendment to add nutrients and improve drainage. And earthworms love them! Most coffee shops will even give you their used grounds if you ask.
  • Worm Castings: Speaking of earthworms, worm castings are a fantastic amendment to add to your garden. This is one of the richest fertilizers you can do. A little goes a long way – we’re talking tablespoons here. It’s rich in minerals for your plants.
  • Bone Meal: This can add calcium and phosphorus to your soil to helps with root growth, flower growth, and to prevent blossom-end rot. It can also raise your soil pH level over time. To learn more, check out this Bone Meal Post.
  • Blood Meal: This adds nitrogen back into your soil to help your plants become more green and lush. It comes in a black granular form that you add to your soil. Blood meal can also make your soil more acidic, which lowers the pH level of your soil. To learn more, check out this Blood Meal Post.

6. Prune Plants

Pruning is an essential garden maintenance task that promotes healthy growth and improves the overall appearance of your plants. Before the spring growing season kicks into high gear, take the time to assess your garden and identify any plants in need of pruning. Remove dead, damaged, or diseased branches to encourage new growth and prevent the spread of disease.

In addition to removing dead or damaged growth, consider shaping and thinning out overgrown plants to improve air circulation and light penetration. Proper pruning techniques vary depending on the type of plant, so take care to research the specific pruning requirements of each species in your garden. With regular pruning, you can maintain the health and vitality of your plants while enhancing the beauty of your garden.

7. Divide Perennials

Spring is an ideal time to divide and transplant perennials, rejuvenating overcrowded or declining plants and promoting vigorous growth. Begin by selecting healthy, well-established perennials that have become overcrowded or developed dead centers. Carefully dig up the plant, taking care to preserve as much of the root system as possible.

Once the plant is lifted from the ground, divide the root ball into smaller sections using a sharp knife or garden spade. Each division should have several healthy stems and a portion of the root system intact. Replant the divisions in their desired location, spacing them adequately to allow for future growth. Water thoroughly after planting to encourage root establishment and ensure the success of your transplants.

8. Check Your Gardening Tools

Before diving into spring gardening tasks, take stock of your gardening tools and equipment to ensure they’re in good working order. Clean and sharpen tools such as pruners, shovels, and hoes to improve their performance and longevity. Replace any damaged or worn-out tools to streamline your gardening efforts and avoid frustration during the growing season.

In addition to basic maintenance tools, you’ll also want to make sure you’re prepared for pest control. This is one of those things where you don’t want to wait until you have a problem to go looking for a solution. I typically use Neem Oil Spray. To learn more you can check out Neem Oil for Organic Gardening and Pest Control.

And that’s about it! Hopefully, you now know how to prepare your vegetable garden for the spring! Do you have any spring garden prep traditions? Comment below!

Happy Gardening! :)

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