Spring is here and it’s time to start your garden. Proper preparation will ensure a robust garden all through the summer and into fall.

Better Homes and Gardens offers these spring gardening suggestions:

  • Prepare the Garden – If you haven’t already, rake your lawn and garden beds of leaves and dead plant matter. Remove any winter mulch around plants. Cultivate the soil in the garden so that it has a fresh start.
  • Get Planting – Spring is the best time to plant shrubs and trees since the soil is moist. They not only add value and beauty to your property, but provide shade that can help reduce energy bills. Don’t plant too deeply. The root ball or flare should be at or just above the soil level.
  • Prune – Most fruit trees such as apple, pear, cherry and peach, should be thinned every year. It’s best to prune now before new growth starts. If summer-blooming shrubs are in need of trimming, it can be done now since flowers appear on new growth. Roses should be pruned now to encourage strong shoots that will produce lots of blooms.
  • Ornamental grasses – These should be cut back to about 4 inches tall before new growth begins. This is also the time to divide ornamental grasses.
  • Fertilize the Lawn – Use a fertilizer that has crab grass control. Fertilizing now will give the lawn a jump start. Since crab grass spreads quickly once it starts growing, now is the time to head it off with a crab grass preventer.
  • Plant Seeds – Start your vegetable garden now by sprinkling seeds in loose, moist soil. You can start the plants indoors and then transfer them in the garden.
  • Potatoes – If you have a potato with “eyes” growing out of it, you can use it as a seed. Cut it in half and plant the cut side down about 6 inches deep and 8 to 10 inches apart.
  • Mulch – Spread mulch around 2 inches deep around shrubs. Mulch helps retain moisture and discourages weeds. Don’t pile up mulch around a tree trunk, it will cause rot. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunk – or better yet, don’t use any around a tree.
  • Divide perennials – Hosta, aster and Siberian iris generally form clumps and should be divided. They will bloom better if they are not crowded. Peonies, bleeding hearts, hellebores, baptisias and amsonias do fine on their own and don’t need to be divided.

Happy gardening!