Embrace the long-awaited coming of spring by following these tips for a verdant garden.

Cor-Ten steel planters host a bounty of fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

Warm days will soon be here again: Tuesday, March 20 marks the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere—which means that it’s time to prep your garden for the coming months. Follow these steps to ensure that your home oasis is full of greenery and blooms this season.

1. Clean Up and Clear Out 

A neighbor harvests bell peppers  in the garden.

A neighbor harvests bell peppers in the garden.

Michael Friberg

Once the last of the snow finally melts, it’s time to survey the state of the garden. The cold weather has probably left leaves, broken branches, and debris behind, and it’s difficult and even damaging for new plantings to grow when there’s a layer of detritus lying around.

2. Trim Your Perennials 

The perennial plants on the green wall were plotted out as a piece of verdant abstract art. Edibles, like strawberry, thyme, and rosemary, are planted within children’s reach.

The perennial plants on the green wall were plotted out as a piece of verdant abstract art. Edibles, like strawberry, thyme, and rosemary, are planted within children’s reach.

Photo: Eric Piasecki

If you’ve previously planted perennials—that is, plants that come back year after year—you’ll need to trim them so that they’ll grow back once the weather warms up. You’ll want to make sure that you wait until the possibility of an early spring frost is gone to avoid damaging any emerging greenery.

3. Plan Ahead

“I love the look of mass plantings,” notes Neely, near Mexican feather grasses--which thrive on the sunny lot.

“I love the look of mass plantings,” notes Neely, near Mexican feather grasses–which thrive on the sunny lot.

Photo: Drew Kelly

Just because you don’t see any new life yet doesn’t mean that you can’t start planning ahead for your garden. Plants like peppers, geraniums, and begonias actually should be planted in January or February because they need a longer growing season, so you’ll want to plant them in the middle of winter and keep them inside until it’s warmer out. Some summer-blooming flowers like lilies, gladiolus, and ranunculus can be planted in the early spring, so you’ll want to have them on hand once the weather is warm enough to start planting.



4. Prep Your Tools

The vegetable garden produces everything from cauliflower to arugula and Italian parsley.

The vegetable garden produces everything from cauliflower to arugula and Italian parsley.

Photo: Michael Schmidt

Similarly, you’ll want to take stock of your gardening tools and see what’s missing, rusty, or needs repair. You don’t want to get caught with a broken shovel on the first beautiful spring day! 

5. Rejuvenate Your Soil 

Hutchins and Montague worked with Samuel H. Williamson Associates Landscape Architecture on the garden, which is planted with sword ferns, vine maple, and wild ginger. “When we look at it from the bedroom, it’s our private little forest,” Montague says.

Hutchins and Montague worked with Samuel H. Williamson Associates Landscape Architecture on the garden, which is planted with sword ferns, vine maple, and wild ginger. “When we look at it from the bedroom, it’s our private little forest,” Montague says.

Photo: Matthew Williams

Over the course of winter, your soil has probably hardened, frozen, and lost a lot of its moisture. You’ll want to restore moisture and nutrients to the soil by breaking it up with a pitchfork and mixing in manure or compost. You may also consider adding a layer of mulch to prevent weeds from growing and to keep in moisture. 

6. Plant Away

A section of the facade—a cross between a shoji screen and a barn door—slides open. Planter boxes contain edible varieties that fuel Mary’s culinary explorations.

A section of the facade—a cross between a shoji screen and a barn door—slides open. Planter boxes contain edible varieties that fuel Mary’s culinary explorations.

Photo: Mark Mahaney

Once your garden is in tip-top shape and ready for spring to come, it’s time to dig some holes and plant some flowers, herbs, vegetables, shrubs, or trees. If you like the idea of color blooming throughout the season, consider mixing annuals with perennials so that you’ll have color year-round. It’s also a good idea to plant according to height, so that taller plants don’t block sun and water from nearby shorter ones.

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