For both novice and experienced gardeners, Spring gardening is often the most satisfying time. As the weather starts to get warmer, it’s tempting to get straight back into planting, but it’s important to be aware of the variable change in growing conditions that spring is known for.
In this one season alone, there could be around three mini-seasons, based on your local climate frost-free date. Your local frost-free date is the average time when the likelihood of frost has passed. These mini-seasons are important to understand because they help you know what plants are in season now and what plants need to wait until later spring.
Here are the three mini-seasons of spring and their unique conditions:
Mini-season 1 – Early Spring. In the earliest days and weeks of the season, it’s important to check on the soil conditions. If the soil is still too hard to work in, it indicates that it’s not the right time for planting. Once the soil has softened, you can begin planting certain bare-root perennials and cold-tolerant annual plants.
Mini-season 2: 2-3 Weeks Before Frost-Free Date: you will need to work backward two to three weeks from the date that frost in your area is likely to have passed. During this time period you can start to acclimatize certain perennials that are hardy enough for your area. This is a good time to begin planting potted perennials and outdoor-grown trees and shrubs. Cold season vegetables like leafy greens can tolerate a freeze and can also be planted.
Mini-season 3: After Frost-Free Date: As soon as the threat of frost has passed, you can begin to seed and transplant annuals and vegetable plants. It’s now safe to dig up and divide out perennial plants that haven’t bloomed. You can also begin planting summer blooming bulbs at this point including any non-hardy bulbs or bulb-like plants.
Spring is a great time to plan the color palette and layout of your garden and to think about which flowers and crops to plant where. Planning is crucial as it enables you to maximize your outdoor planting space and prepare for your garden’s seasonal needs.
Here are my three top tips for planting during spring:
Prep Garden Beds and Soil: This is the perfect time to prepare your garden beds after harsh winter conditions.
- Start by removing leaves and debris.
- Tend to your plants that made it through the winter. Prune them back after the frost-free date to prevent freezing and shock.
- Pull up the weeds. Removing them at their roots.
- It’s important to nourish your soil with organic compost and lots of water at this point in time.
Stagger Blooming Times: The key to seasonal gardening is to plan for blooming times starting in the spring. Decide where you’ll plant your earliest bloomers, such as cold-tolerant annuals and early-blooming perennials. Make sure these plants have been hardened-off at the garden center before you plant them. Then decide where to plant your summer blooming bulbs, which will lay dormant until much later into the early summer. By knowing blooming times in advance, you can ensure you’ve created a vibrant, colorful garden all throughout the spring and into summer.
Set a Color Scheme: Spring planting is a time to get creative. You can develop flowering color schemes based on blooming times. Group complementary colors together. For example, a warm color scheme would include reds, oranges and yellows. A cool color scheme will have blues and purples. Depending on the size of your beds, you can repeat colors schemes to give your garden a cohesive palette.
Expect your summer bulbs to start blooming as you enter the final weeks and spring and early days of summer. You’ll also begin to notice your soil drying out quicker, which means it’s time to deepen watering sessions. Because the soil condition shifts during seasonal transitions, it’s important to also boost the fertility of your soil. Gardens rich with mulch help the soil retain nutrients, which improves the performance of your beautiful summer blooms.