As the winter months slowly give way to the promise of spring, it’s time to reconnect with your beautiful outdoor space. But that can be a challenge if you’re still dealing with snow on the ground. Even if you’re grappling with icy conditions, there’s a range of activities you can do to prepare for an exceptional season in your garden.
Plan Your Perfect Spring Garden
The first step of preparing your garden is thinking forward. Plan your garden ahead of time and enjoy a happy, healthy garden in late spring.
Map out sun exposure
In order to buy the right plants, chart the sun exposure in your garden throughout the day. By mapping sun exposure, you can determine which areas receive full sun, partial sun, or full shade. The National Gardener’s Association defines full sun areas as those receiving at least six hours of direct sunlight in the middle of the day. Partial sun or partially shaded areas receive direct sunlight early in the morning or evening. A fully shaded area receives no direct sunlight.
Each plant has different needs, so take advantage of every part of your garden by researching what amount of sunshine they need to thrive. Don’t forget to factor in that the days will only get longer as the season changes!
Check the compatibility of your seeds
Some seeds get along better than others, so make sure to practice companion planting for the best results. Companion planting is the choice to place two or more plants together so that each benefits in some way.
Plants can support each other in a number of different ways. Many improve the quality of the soil and attract pollinating insects, while others simply serve as increased shelter from sun and wind. If you’re worried about pests, remember that some plants and herbs serve as a natural protective shield for vulnerable veggies.
Keep in mind that certain plant combinations stunt the growth of surrounding fruit and vegetables. Often the best choice is to place combative plants on opposite ends of the garden, but aim for at least a 4-foot space between them.
To help you make these strategic decisions, consult a table, like this one from the Farmer’s Almanac, which highlights the plants that will flourish together.
Starting Seeds Indoors
Raising seeds indoors is an excellent way to ease spring fever, and it has quite a few benefits. By growing your own seedlings instead of buying transplants from a garden center, you typically save money and have access to a wider range of seed options.
When it comes to timing, aim to begin sowing seeds about six weeks before the last frost in your area. Some seeds are more finicky than others, so check guidelines that are specific to your area and your chosen seeds before beginning.
To sow seeds indoors, you’ll need clean, individual seed containers to prevent seedling roots from tangling. If you’re reusing containers from last season, sterilize them first to minimize the risk of damage from microorganisms. You’ll also need a soilless seed starting mixture made of moss and vermiculite, which will allow the flow of oxygen and encourage seed germination.
After setting the containers on a tray and adding the starting mix, water the mix and allow it to settle. Top off the containers with mix until they are filled just below the rim. Plant according to the seed packet directions, gently pressing the largest seeds into the soil.
Fit a clear, ventilated plastic dome over the tray and begin watering as instructed. Place the tray where it will receive a consistent source of bottom heat and be safe from hazards like cold drafts, curious pets or intense heat. Sprouting usually takes place when temperatures hover between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once seedlings start to form, remove the plastic cover and provide a source of bright light. If your house doesn’t offer a strong source of natural light, consider investing in a cool, fluorescent source of light for your seeds.
Assess your garden’s spring potential
If you’re eager to see spring blooms, it’s easy to get swept up in daydreams of warmer weather. But to ensure success, it’s important that the weather and soil temperatures in your area are warm enough for seedlings to thrive.
A handy tool that can help you decide when it’s the right time to start transplanting your seedlings is the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. By checking which zone you live in on the map, you can determine how well your climate aligns with the needs of the bulbs, fruits, and vegetables you hope to grow. Typically, the zones with higher numbers found in the southern region of the country will have warmer soil sooner in the year when compared with the lower-numbered zones up north.
The optimal soil temperature will vary depending on the seed. However, the optimal range typically lies between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit for many plants, so it may be some time before you can begin planting.
In the meantime, focus on indoor planning activities so you can jump start a gorgeous garden in the spring.
How TruGreen can help
While you jump start your garden planning, don’t forget about your grass. To learn how TruGreen can prepare your lawn for the upcoming spring season, give us a call at 866.688.6722 or visit our services page.