Up in the mountains of Asheville, spring can seem to take its sweet time getting here, but the snow has melted and the temperatures are warming up, which means it’s time to prep for planting season. Whether you’ve got a few landscaped areas to plant around your house, or you have a full backyard garden, it’s time to get your outdoor space ready! Here are a few tips on what to do to get your garden ready for new plants.
The very first thing to do when you make it out to your mountain garden is clean it up. Though this isn’t always the most fun part of gardening, the winter tends to stir up leaves, break tree branches, and generally leave your garden a mess by the time all of the snow melts. To get it back in shape, you’ll have to do a little bit of raking to remove all of the extra debris. The sooner you can get to this chore, the better, because you want to get it out of the way before your spring perennials and bulbs start popping out of the ground. If you have all your cleaning done before they start to grow, you’ll lessen the chance that you accidentally step on or rake over them.
Check hand tools and equipment
Your favorite gardening tools have been sitting in the shed all winter and could probably use a bit of TLC before you put them back to work this spring. You’ll want to go through and make sure everything is in working order, clean up the tools that are still dirty from last year, and see what new tools you might need to buy. If you want to make sure the wooden handles on your tools stay nice, use a bit of mineral spirits on each handle. This will help clean off any extra dirt and prevent the wood from drying out and splintering.
Trim and prune
Once you have all of the leaves and twigs out of your way, you can begin to trim and prune your bigger shrubs and trees. It’s great to do this before spring really takes hold because it’s easier to see which limbs you need, and which you don’t. Make sure to take off any diseased, broken, or dead limbs, to ensure your shrubs are in the best shape for spring.
Turn over soil
You’ll get the best out of your plants if you first take care of your soil. At the very least, you should turn it over a bit with a pitchfork, rake, or shovel, and at the best, you might consider renting a small rototiller. The more oxygen you can get into the soil, the better. If you have a compost pile, this is the time to mix in fresh, nutrient-rich compost to the soil. If you don’t have a compost pile, you can always purchase compost or manure at a local gardening shop to help add nutrients to your soil. It’s good to turn over and fertilize your soil a few weeks before you plant. You’ll need to wait a while to ensure that the additional nutrients have time to mix in with your soil. If you plant too early, you run the risk of having the compost or manure burn the roots of new plants.
Before you plant anything, you’ll want to go through and pull up all the weeds and plants you don’t want in your garden this year. This is another reason why it’s good to wait to plant a bit after you turn over the soil. This give the weeds a chance to grow, so you can see where they’ve been hiding out before you plant. Weeding before planting is a great way to ensure you get as many invasive plants out of your garden as you can before you start planting. This protects your plants in the long run because they’re less likely to get choked out by weeds.
Make a plan
Once your garden is all prepped and ready for spring, it’s time to make a plan. Take a look at the spaces you have open to fill, and consider what colors you’d like to highlight. It’s also a good idea to mix in perennials with annuals so that you get color in all areas of your garden throughout the year. Finally, make sure you plant according to heights. You don’t want taller plants to grow up and block sunlight from shorter ones, so make sure to take that into account when you’re considering your gardening plan. If you aren’t sure about some of your gardening ideas, you can always talk to an expert at your local nursery for growing recommendations, or for ideas on what to plant with what.
If you’re looking for an easier way to garden this year, you might consider constructing a few raised beds. Raised beds help control weeds and pests, are much easier to plant, and keep your nutrient rich soil contained. Many gardeners who use compost to fertilize their gardens prefer a raised bed method to planting directly in the soil because raised beds do a lot to contain all of those nutrients you get from your compost, and ensure they don’t get washed away. The final, perhaps most important, benefit of raised gardening beds is the fact that they’re much easier on your back. No more bending over for hours at a time. If you’re considering putting in raised beds for your garden this year, now is the time to make them. You’ll want to have them up and ready by the time the weather warms up as you typically plant a raised bed sooner than any other garden.
The very last thing to do before you plant your garden is to buy some mulch. Some people prefer to mulch after they plant, and some prefer to mulch before. The choice is up to you, but if you have a lot of perennials, and not many annuals, you might consider mulching first. This will ensure you’re keeping nutrients within the soil for those plants that are already starting to pop up, and it will help contain weeds. No matter what, make sure you have mulch on hand. It’s the best way to give your garden a rich uniform look, and it presents major benefits for all of your plants as well.
By following each of these steps, you’re sure to have your Asheville backyard garden prepped and ready for springtime. Your soil will be nutrient rich, resulting in a beautifully lush garden once you get those plants in.
If mountain gardening and Asheville life appeal to you, then you might consider checking out the Couch Mountain sustainable mountain community, just minutes from downtown Asheville. Our unique development focuses on low-impact construction and features a variety of outdoor community gardens for residents to take part in. In addition to our neighborhood gardens, you’ll also find a community greenhouse to start your seedlings and cultivate a variety of plants year round! To learn more about our sustainable community, feel free to give us a call at 866-936-5263 or request more information online today.