5 Steps for Preparing a Garden for Spring

It's time to start thinking about how to get ready for a new growing season. Here's what to do when preparing a garden for spring.

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rose of Sharon shrub, preparing garden for springCourtesy Barbara Gomez
Rose of Sharon

Prune Shrubs

One of the first steps in preparing a garden for spring starts before the snow melts. In late winter or very early spring, prune summer-flowering shrubs, including blue spirea, summersweet and rose of Sharon, to encourage bushy growth and masses of nectar-laden blooms. Learn when to prune hydrangeas.

Look for Bugs

Inspect the trees and shrubs in your yard for overwintering pests. Removing egg masses of eastern tent caterpillars, spongy moths and other voracious insects can greatly reduce plant damage without the use of chemicals—a major goal for any wildlife gardener.

Clean Up Flower Beds

Remove and compost leaves and plant debris from spent annuals and perennials like coneflowers that stayed in the garden over winter. The birds have likely picked the seed heads clean. Check out more ways to take your garden from good to great.

zinnias in a containerCourtesy Donna Ruiz
Zinnias growing in a container

Work the Soil and Prepare Garden Containers

Go ahead and order seeds from seed catalogs, but preparing your garden for spring needs to start before you go shopping for new plants. Break up hard clumps (psst—this is my favorite cultivator tool), remove weeds, and work compost or other organic material into the top layer of soil. Replace any broken or damaged pots. Buy fresh, quality potting mix for containers and raised beds.

Add New Plants

Scour garden centers for plants birds, butterflies and bees love. Plant annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs that will attract wildlife. Include those that offer food as well as shelter.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.