spring gardening tips


Early spring is the perfect time to plan out the changes you’ll make to your garden. Will you rework your perennial borders to add more depth and movement in the garden? Create an attractive screen for your neighbor’s ugly shed so you can have the privacy you crave? Do you want to rip out those old tired shrubs and replace them with something colorful and low maintenance?

How about building a vegetable bed filled with heirloom plants?  Order them from one of the many seed catalogs and before you know it, the seed packets will be waiting in your mail box (check out the Mailorder Gardening Association and Cyndi’s Catalog of Garden Catalogs for good seed sources). Now is the time to plan the location and design of your summer vegetable and herb garden. Can’t you already taste the first big juicy tomato, the fresh parsley, the basil?  For those of us who want to grow more of our own food, what’s more local than strolling through the veggie patch to see what you can prepare for dinner?

If your garden is small or you have little time for maintaining a formal vegetable garden, consider using:

Now is also a great time to think about creating a more sustainable garden. What about adding summer flowers that will attract birds and butterflies? Have you considered incorporating native grasses? Or thought about building a rain garden?

Here are some simple things you can do this spring:

  • Test Your Soil - Professional soil testing should be your first step before planting. Here’s a link to VCE soil testing instructions. (You can pick up soil sample boxes at your local VCE Office and print the form from this link.)
  • daffodilsObserve the Conditions on Your Property - Things to consider before planting: Is your soil healthy? Do you have erosion, drainage problems (wet areas) or runoff (lots of turf or a steep slope?) Can you identify existing plants and their condition - are they thriving or struggling? Are your plants well matched to your site? Do you beat the weeds early on or wait too long to hand pull them and then it’s too late?
  • Be a Water-Wise Gardener - See the VCE website for some good gardening practices.
  • Create a Rain Garden - Here is a link to Arlington County, VA information about rain gardens.
  • Reduce Water Waste - Make or purchase a rain barrel. Click here for some good advice about using rain barrels.
  • Use Drip Irrigation Systems or Soaker Hoses - Overhead watering wastes gallons of water. Practice good watering techniques.
  • Remove Some Grass - Replace it with a vegetable bed or a herbaceous perennial garden! If you didn’t prepare a bed last fall, consider raised beds on top of the lawn area with a thick newspaper barrier between the beds and the lawn.
  • Recycle Yard Waste - Try composting. Most counties offer free compost containers. See these easy instructions on composting.
  • Plant a Tree - Learn the benefits of trees and match the tree to your site. Here’s some helpful advice from the VA Dept of Forestry.
  • Garden for Wildlife - Here's how to create a backyard wildlife habitat.
  • Visit Public Gardens - This is a perfect opportunity to see spring plants in bloom in the landscape. You’ll find design ideas and plants that you can incorporate into your own yard. For a comprehensive list of what plants work well in this area see the Recommended Plants for This Area from Green Spring Gardens.
  • Take Photos of Your Yard - Take pictures during all four seasons and view them often - you’ll be surprised what you can learn from them and what you didn’t notice up close!

Finally, don’t forget that, for most of us, the winter garden could also use some spicing up.  Try adding winter bloomers like witch hazel and hellebores, trees or shrubs with interesting bark (try Coral Bark maple and Red-twig Dogwood), and plants that protect and feed your feathered friends (like Winterberry Holly).

As the days warm up, it seems like there’s so much to do – and the gardening season hasn’t even started!  Don’t be caught by surprise when the first blossoms burst open, the birds return from their winter journey, and the landscape begins to turn green.

Ready to get started? Call Valentine-Gardening at 703-300-1499 or email Louise for a design consult, spring tune up, or coaching session. Think sustainable, water-wise, edible, and wildlife friendly gardening this spring!

Read the Spring Confessions of a Plantaholic >>


About Valentine Gardening Services

Looking for some garden design ideas this spring? Does your outdoor living area need some work to become the comfortable, inviting, and livable space you envision?

Call Valentine-Gardening for garden coaching or an informal design consult at 703-300-1499, or send Louise an email to find out how one or more of our services can benefit you and your garden.