Spring Gardening Guide for a Successful Growing Season

After a long winter, you are ready to get outside and enjoy your garden and landscape! It is time to take out those gardening gloves, grab your tools and get some vitamin D (do not forget your sunscreen!) Here are the most essential spring gardening tasks you can do to ensure a bountiful gardening season this year! 

Assess Your Yard 

First, it is helpful to take a walk around your landscaping and garden beds to understand how your plants are doing, and how to get them ready for the spring season. You can take note of beds that need cleaning, plants that were damaged in the winter, ones you want to move, and empty spaces you will want to fill. Take this time to plan any hardscaping additions or repairs as well, since it is best to tackle those projects early on.  

Add or Repair Hardscaping 

You can repair any damaged retaining walls, paths, landscaping edges, and raised beds, if needed. You can also take this time to build new raised beds, trellises, install window boxes, or even a new deck! Set yourself up for success so you can enjoy your garden as it blossoms throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons. 

Clean Garden Beds 

While this is an essential spring task, it is best to wait to clean your garden bed for as long as possible. Many beneficial insects could still be sleeping in the plant material from winter, so be sure to clean your beds in the later part of spring if you can!  

When you are ready, use a rake or your favorite garden tool to clear out leaves, plant material, or debris from the winter season. You can also clear away any mulch you placed around your perennials and shrubs for winter protection. This will get your beds ready for new growth and new plantings. Plus, keeping a clean bed is essential for staying clear of pests and diseases. 

Divide and Transplant Perennials and Shrubs 

As a good rule of thumb, it is best to divide any perennials in the opposite season from which they bloom. This means spring is a wonderful time to divide anything that blooms in late summer and fall as this does not disrupt their bloom cycle. You can divide perennials that have outgrown their spaces, or those you wish to add elsewhere in your yard or containers.  

As for transplanting, spring is great for moving evergreens, roses, and more! You can move any of your deciduous shrubs if they are not in bloom. It is ideal to transplant them right before they come out of dormancy since this will guarantee less stress on the plants and time for their roots to become well established. 

Prune Shrubs and Perennials 

Spring is the perfect time to prune many, but not all, woody shrubs and perennials. You can start by pruning anything that was damaged during the winter season, as well as any dead wood you see.  

You can prune shrubs that are summer bloomers and those that flower on new wood. This includes some of our favorite varieties like butterfly bushes, smooth and panicle hydrangeas, rose of Sharon, and roses. Take this time to also prune arborvitaes and boxwood after their initial flush of the season. 

On the other hand, you will want to avoid pruning shrubs that bloom earlier in the season, or those that bloom on old wood like lilacs, ninebark, weigela, azalea, and oakleaf, mountain, and big leaf hydrangea. 

If you are unsure when to prune a specific plant, search for the plant on our website and go to the “Details” section. This is where you will find pruning recommendations under “Care.” You can also check out this article for more details on why, when, and how to prune your plants!

Screenshot of details sections of our product page where you can find pruning instructions.

Planting Shrubs, Perennials, and Annuals 

After a long winter, it is so exciting to get back outside and introduce new plants into your yard and garden! What to plant and when depends on the specific plant in which you are growing in the spring. Below are a few guidelines on how to have a successful spring planting season with your new shrubs, perennials, and annuals. 

Bare Root, Dormant Perennials, and Shrubs 

As long as they are still dormant, you can plant perennials and shrubs in early spring as soon as the ground is workable. This means the ground is no longer frozen and it is also not too wet. To be sure, grab a handful of soil and notice its consistency. If it falls apart easily, then you are good to plant your bare roots. If it sticks together, then the ground is too wet for planting. 

Annuals and Potted Perennials and Shrubs 

Proven Winners Plants

Once the threat of frost has passed, you are in the clear to plant any annuals, perennials, and shrubs in both the landscape and containers around your home. Your last frost can happen within a two-week period of your average last frost date, so be sure to check the farmer’s almanac for your most accurate frost-free date for this growing season. Not sure when your last frost may occur? You can find your average date by clicking here. 

If you plant new annuals, shrubs, and perennials, and a random last frost is set to occur in your area, just cover them with frost cloth for protection.  

For plants that are easy to care for and even easier to grow, consider Proven Winners plants, especially our vast selection of annuals. Proven Winners® tries to select plants that are prolific bloomers, but still are "low maintenance," which generally means that they don't need to be deadheaded. This is the Proven Winners Difference!

Vegetables, Herbs, and Fruits 

You can also transplant any of our Proven Harvest tomatoes, peppers, basil and strawberries you grew from seed when the threat of frost has passed. If grown in our Seed-Starting Eco-Pots, you can simply place the pot into the ground as it will decompose over time, providing nutrients to the plant as it grows. 

Support Your Plants 

Once your plants are in the ground, you will want to take note of anything that needs to be supported by trellises or stakes. These include clematis, climbing roses, honeysuckle, and tomatoes, to name a few. Take time in the early spring to set up your supports so you do not have to worry about them as your plants grow and flourish. 

Add Fresh Mulch 

Once your new plants are in, and your support stakes and trellises are up, you can finish your spring tasks by adding mulch around the beds. This keeps your yard polished and beautiful, reduces the chance of weeds crowding your landscape, and helps the soil retain moisture upon watering. Just make sure you are not adding too much mulch as this can obstruct water from getting to the roots of your plants. An even layer of about 2-3 inches is ideal.  

Stock Up on Easy Gardening Tools for Summer Maintenance 

Now it is time to kick back and relax...for the most part! Throughout the season, your garden and landscape will need tending-to depending on the weather conditions of your area and the overall growing habits of your plants. To keep gardening easy and successful, spring is a wonderful time to set up irrigation systems for your container and landscape plants, and stock up on fertilizer for your annuals that grow bigger and healthier with a feeding every other week or so. Check out our Home Garden Success Kits which offer multiple combinations of irrigation systems, fertilizers, and soil so you will have everything you need to keep your plants happy and healthy this season.