Little-Known Spring Gardening Tips

May 4, 2014

Whether you are a seasoned gardener or not, there’s just something about the springtime that sparks the urge to do a little outdoor sprucing up. It is a necessity for many homeowners, because a home’s exterior areas usually need some attention after the winter months. For some of us, it occurs unexpectedly – we just went to the big-box hardware store because those new LED light bulbs were on sale. And then wham! It happens – before even entering the front door of the place, we are bombarded with colorful trays of annuals, fresh bags of mulch, and pots of summertime herbs and vegetables. Before we know it, we’re on the way home with a trunk full of plants, flowers and high hopes!

Although ideas that there are those who just have a knack for gardening or a lucky “green thumb” are prevalent, prize-winning gardeners also have a little extra know-how. The proverb, “experience is the best teacher” is certainly true when it comes to gardening. Sure, most plants come with directions; however, there are always those things that no one ever tells you. In light of those situations, here are a few helpful spring gardening tips that may not be so obvious:


The act of taking a pair of shears to an existing, healthy tree or shrub sends fear into the hearts of most amateur gardeners. “Won’t that kill it? How will I know where to cut?” In fact, correct pruning speeds growth and makes for healthier plants. 

Now is the time to prune roses, fruit trees, and flowering shrubs that bloomed in the early spring. Cut away overgrown and dead growth. For best results, snip at an angle. For more pruning pointers, click here: 


Tackle newly sprouted weeds now before they take over this summer. Rather than using dangerous chemicals, purchase an inexpensive weed fork and use it to take them out by the roots. Weeding is much easier on a day following a good rain, because the ground is softer. Don’t throw them in the compost, because the pesky seeds can re-sprout! 


Freshly mulched beds make a landscape look finished and neat. The more important jobs mulch accomplishes is to hold in moisture and keep weeds from sprouting by blocking the sun. Before you begin spreading fresh mulch, first, rake away the old top layer. Chances are it looks pretty shabby and it may be hampering the growth of spring plants. 

According to the experts at Better Homes and Gardens, you’ll need to spread a layer of mulch that’s 2 inches deep, in order for it to do its job. 


Many homeowners are also intimidated by the idea of planting trees on their property. Again, all it takes is a little know-how. Because of the benefits trees offer, learning how to plant them is so worth it. Trees add value to your home, plus offer shade and maybe even edible delights, like apples, cherries, or plums. Avoid common tree-planting mistakes by viewing this informative video:

Planting Annuals

First off, don’t be afraid – just get the spot ready by digging a small hole. Next, gently remove the plant from its plastic pot. Place it in the hole to make sure it’s deep enough. The top level of soil from the pot should meet the top edge of the hole. If the spot gets a lot of full sun, put in a handful of moisture control potting soil to give the roots a little extra help. Before the final planting-use your trowel to chop and separate the root ball. That will help the plant settle into its new spot easier. Finally, fill the hole, water lightly and enjoy! 

Weed Eater Maintenance

Grease it up for smoother operation by applying a spray-on vegetable oil to the line. That should help prevent breakage and line jams. 

DIY Hose Guide

It can be very annoying when you’re ready to water your newly planted beds and the hose repeatedly snags on tree roots, corners of the deck, etc. Instead, use clay pots, as inexpensive hose guides. Master Gardener, Paul James, explains how: “Just stab a roughly one-foot length of steel reinforcing bar into the ground at the corner of a bed and slip two clay pots over it: one facing down, the other facing up. The guides will prevent damage to your plants as you drag the hose along the bed.” 

Plant Markers

Make your own by painting smooth stones with the name of each plant. Use acrylic paint and then a coat of clear varnish to make them last longer. That way, you’ll be able to tell what’s what. 

Clay Pot Spruce Up

If yours have broken out with white blotches, don’t worry, it happens with clay and is caused by naturally occurring salt deposits. Clean them with a combination of equal parts; white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and water. Pour liquids into a spray bottle, apply and scrub with a brush. Rinse any remaining solution away and allow the pots to dry before planting anything. 

Vitamin Water

Save the leftover water from steaming veggies, provided it is free of salt, spices, or oil. When it’s cool, use it to water potted plants – they love it! 


What to do with those prolific harvests of basil, dill, lemon sage, chives, or thyme? Spread a few sheets of parchment paper in a sunny spot and lay some herb cuttings out to dry. They should be ready in 3 to 5 days. For bushels of basil, blend it up with olive oil and garlic. Freeze in ice cube trays to amp up soups, stews, and as the base for pesto. 

Double-Duty Measuring Stick

Rather than run inside each time you need a yardstick, simply transfer the measurements to your garden shovel. Then when you have to plant something 2 feet deep or 10 inches apart, you’ll have what you need to figure it out! 

No More Dirty Nails

Even with heavy-duty gardening gloves, hard to remove dirt and grime can get under your nails. Next time you’ve got a day of digging ahead of you, run your nails over a bar of soap a few times before putting on gloves and heading out. The soap blocks the dirt and makes clean-up with a nail brush easy after your gardening session. 

Start From the Ground Up

Plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, gardenias and even blueberries need an acidic soil to thrive, if you are growing any of those varieties, boost the acidity by sprinkling a quarter of an inch of coffee grounds around their bases. Do it once a month to maintain a more acidic ph. 

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  • Spring Home Maintenance Tips
  • Boosting Curb Appeal on a Budget

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