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The crocuses and buttercups are blooming and it's time to dust off your tools, shake out some seeds and wake up your garden. The way you prep your garden in spring can influence how it looks all through summer. Follow some of these straightforward tips now and your garden will pay you back with a fresh, bountiful look you can enjoy for months.
If you haven't touched your trowel or clippers since fall, check them for dullness or rust. If you keep them in an outdoor shed, they may be rusty from exposure to damp weather. It's easy to sharpen clippers and shears with a whetstone and you'll be amazed at how much faster you can work with sharp tools. Take your lawn mower into a shop and have the blades sharpened before you trim your grass for the first time this season. If your tools have seen better days, invest in new ones to make your gardening a pleasure.
Make Your Beds
Chances are, your flowerbeds are in need of attention after a long winter's nap. Grab your rake and remove all the old mulch and other debris covering the soil. Replace the old mulch with a fresh batch and layer it about 4-inches deep. Work some mulch deep into the soil. Keep an eye out for weeds and remove as many as possible. If you are able to remove weeds early, you can prevent them from becoming entrenched and wreaking havoc on your flowers all summer.
Check Your Hardscape
Bricks, paths, patios and fountains can crack during harsh winter temperatures. Take a tour of your garden and inspect hardscape that may have been damaged by ice or freezing weather.
Scatter Your Seeds
If you are certain the frost season is over, celebrate by planting colorful annual blooms. If you are planting seeds, try soaking them in warm water for a day or two before they hit the soil. This tactic will entice them to successfully open sooner than usual. Keep soil moist until your plants are established.
Prune and Stake
Take a good look at your shrubs, rose bushes and perennials and prune dead branches, cut back woody growth and thin everything out. Let your plants breathe in spring. A healthy pruning early in the season will mean verdant growth as the weather warms. Notice whether some of your plants need more support and use stakes to prop them up.
Watch Your Water
Now is the time to give your irrigation system a good look. Leaking pipes and broken sprinkler heads can ruin your garden and increase your water bill. Program your system for the season and adjust it as the weather warms. Regulate sprinklers efficiently so your garden gets the maximum advantage from the least water possible.
Compost Your Clippings
If you want your garden to glow next year, start a compost pile with this spring's clippings and add to it throughout the year. Layer a mixture of chopped dry leaves and green grass, mix in a little bio-activator and water and toss until combined. Add to the pile throughout the year and continue to turn over the mixture. Chopping the clippings into smaller pieces will help the pile decompose. By next spring you should have a rich mulch to spread throughout your garden.