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How to Get an Early Start on Your Garden This Spring

Tackle your pre-plant to-do list while being mindful of the environment, insects and wildlife in your garden

An overhead view of a person with a ponytail wearing a yellow sweater over a black shirt and jeans. She is wearing red rubber boots and black gardening gloves. She is leaning over a garden that’s been blocked off with some wood. Different varieties of lettuce and other greenery are in the flower bed in front of her. Next to her is a large basket with a handle. Inside of it are assorted gardening tools, including a spade with a pink handle.

As hints of spring emerge—warm breezes, budding trees and flowering bulbs poking out of the ground—here are four tasks you can complete to set your garden up for success.

Tidy the flower beds

A close of a gloved hand holding a fistful of weeds and dirt.

It’s tempting to get into the garden as soon as there’s a hint of warm weather, but it’s best to wait until temperatures are consistently above 10°C for at least 10 days before cleaning up your gardens.

Many pollinators, like bees and butterflies, spend the winter in dead plant material. They hide there and emerge in spring to do their good work. So, clearing your gardens too early can harm these essential insects.

When it’s time, start by gently clearing hollow stems and leaf litter from your gardens.

Use sharp, clean pruners to cut plant stems about two and a half centimetres from the crown. Home Hardware offers a variety of pruning, garden and tree shears to get the job done. If you don’t see any new growth, wait until buds appear—typically in the first two weeks of March.

If possible, gently deposit hollow stems and leaves on your compost pile so that any remaining insects can exit their winter home unharmed. Or, leave them in a safe corner of the yard until you’re ready to put them into yard bags.

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Prep your garden

A close up of a pair of hands wearing red gardening gloves. One hand is holding a gardening spade with a grey and neon yellow handle. It is positioned next to a dandelion in the dirt that is about to be dug up.

Before it’s time to plant, you can get your flower and vegetable gardens ready to go.

Pull out any early weeds using a cultivator or weeder from Rona for a fast and efficient clean up.

Add nutrients to the soil with compost or manure. And refresh any mulch that has started to break down over the winter.

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Don’t neglect lawn care

A man with grey hair and glasses wearing a short-sleeved button up blue shirt and jeans with a brown belt. He is holding onto a push lawn mower across some grass. Behind him, a pillar for a home and a porch is visible.

Allow your grass to dry out before walking through it. If it’s squishy and wet, wait.

Instead of chemical fertilizers, opt for adding compost to your lawn in the spring. This eco-friendly method, referred to as top-dressing, adds slow-release nutrients that will nourish the soil and encourage healthy grass. You just need a thin layer—less than one centimetre.

If you’re seeding your lawn, consider eco-friendly varieties of fescues that require less mowing and maintenance, as well as other green cover, like clovers.

When you are ready to cut the lawn, consider an environmentally friendly model, like a reel mower from Troy-Bilt.

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Find gardening inspiration

A woman wearing a yellow shirt is sitting in a copper-coloured arm chair. She is holding a black mug and has a grey knit blanket covering her legs. She is looking down at a magazine.

Gardening books can help kickstart ideas for the coming growing season.

Sustainability and rewilding are topics gaining attention as green thumbs strive to take an organic approach to gardening while welcoming beneficial insects and wildlife.

Indigo offers a selection of gardening books on these ideas such as The Regenerative Garden by Stephanie Rose and Grow Now by Emily Murphy.

Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden by Jessica Walliser offers tips on creating a balanced, diverse garden.

And The Urban Garden by Kathy Jentz and Teri Speight features tons of small-scale gardening ideas for those with small spaces.

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