5 Steps for Preparing a Garden for Spring

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.

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.

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, gypsy 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 Vanover is the senior digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She enjoys growing vegetables in containers and raised beds and watching for birds in her backyard.