Sumo Gardener

Gardening In Spring: A Gardener’s Checklist for Spring

As spring arrives, you need to pay extra attention to your garden. While this season can promise great plant growth, there are also several issues to deal with. Thus, let’s take a look at the many activities you can do when gardening in spring.

What To Do In The Garden In Spring?

Gardening in Spring Checklist

1. Spring Pest Control

While pests in spring won’t be as plentiful as they are in the summer season, you still need to pay attention to certain pests such as cutworms, maggots, slugs, and wireworms.


Cutworms move up to the soil surface at nighttime to eat seedlings and newly transplanted crops, especially peppers.To stop the cutworms from feeding off your plants, you can position several rings of lightweight cardboard – known as cutworm collars – around the plants.


Second, maggots can wreak havoc on your cabbages, radishes, Brussels sprouts, onions, and sweet corns. Maggots are born on your crops when eggs were placed there by flies.

They feast on the root systems of your plants, which negatively affects the overall plant growth. One way to control a maggot infestation is through the application of diatomaceous earth around the stems of your seedlings. 

A preventive method is to get some yellow sticky traps to capture the mature flies and stop them from laying eggs in the first place.


Third, the soft and slimy slugs reside in moist areas in the daytime, and then they eat the plant leaves on relatively warm nights. If you see a lot of these pests in your garden, you should water and mulch adequately.

Remember not to apply too much mulch as this can attract even more slugs. Likewise, you can place cardboards and newspapers between garden rows.

The slugs will seek shelter underneath these materials. Thus, you just have to lift them when the sun is up and then lead the slugs into a container filled water and soap.


Lastly, the dark and thin wireworms are most likely to appear if you have just turned a part of your lawn into a garden. They will damage the root systems, but you can kill them off with an application of soil insecticide.

2. Pruning Trees and Ornamental Grasses

Pruning tree is best done during their dormant stage. If your trees begin to bloom or develop buds during spring, you must be careful. Doing it extensively can expose them to pests and plant disease.

Useful Guide: Tree Pruner Buyers' Guide for 2023.

Tree Pruning

In particular, certain trees are better off not being trimmed during spring. For example, oak trees pruned in spring could suffer more from oak wilt while honeylocust trees could succumb to stem cankers.

In addition, sycamore trees might develop anthracnose while elm trees get the Dutch elm disease. In contrast, other trees need pruning during this season. 

Pruning young trees by removing the broken branches can enhance their structure. In addition, late spring is a good time for pruning walnut trees, birch trees, and maple trees.

If you prune them during winter, a lot of sap is released. This isn’t actually harmful, but it doesn’t offer a clean pruning operation either. If you prune in spring, these trees won’t release much sap.

Similarly, the following trees should be pruned in spring as soon as they have finished blooming: magnolia, lilac, apricot, chokecherry, dogwood, juneberry, and crabapple trees.

In general, you can trim your trees in spring, but only as much as 10 percent of the branches. By pruning the trees in spring, you get to shape them to enhance the overall appearance of your garden.

More importantly, you get to remove any damaged or rotten tree branches.

Pruning Ornamental Grasses

As for ornamental grasses such as regal mist and deer grass, they should be pruned in early spring. This is the season when they will have active growth.

By trimming them, you can separate the newly growing blades from the dry seed heads. The ornamental grasses won’t look good for a couple of weeks, but they will return to their original form soon after.

Here is a video about pruning ornamental grasses:

3. Weed Control 

Many plants switch to their active growth periods in spring, but so do the weeds that can be bad for your garden.

Broadleaf Plantain 

First, the broadleaf plantain can grow and spread all over your garden between June and September.These weeds thrive in either moist soil or highly compacted soil with an alkaline pH level. Simply mowing the broadleaf plantain at a low height won’t work against them due to their thick root systems. 

If you don’t mow, however, the seed head could eventually surpass six inches in length. The best option is to use either a synthetic or a natural herbicide.

weed control in spring

Canadian thistle

Next, the Canadian thistle can provide color to your garden with its slightly pink and purple flowers. However, the problem is that the spiny leaves can lead to irritation upon contact.

Worse, stepping on the leaves of Canadian thistles is a painful task. If you don’t take care of it, the Canadian thistle will quickly spread and grow to four feet long or more.

Using a natural or synthetic herbicide will do the trick, but you can also just remove them by hand. Just remember to also pull out the roots to stop the Canadian thistle from growing again.


Third, dandelions as one of the most common broadleaf weeds found in North America can pose the threat. Once spring arrives, you’ll easily notice them with their strikingly yellow appearance.

Some homeowners don’t treat them as a weed, but many others do because of how fast they can spread. After all, dandelion seeds can be propagated through mowing, foot traffic, and strong winds.

They will compete with your crops for nutrients. To remove them, pull them up and ensure that all the roots are taken out of the soil.

Also read: How to Kill Thistle In Your Garden

4. Fertilizing 

Lawn broadcast fertilizer

Your garden in early spring won’t look particularly good as the plants shift from their dormant period to active growth. Thus, it’s common to see them drenched in water and with brown leaves. However, we do not recommend a fertilizer application in early spring.

Fertilizing at this stage of spring will speed up the growth of leaves, but it will affect root growth. Moreover, the plant will consume the carbohydrate reserves for the wrong reasons.

These reserves should be utilized only for resisting plant disease and establishing the roots deep in the soil.

Read also: 5 Best Lawn Fertilizer Spreader To Buy This Year

If the roots grow at a shallow point, the plants will become vulnerable to drought in the summer. Ideally, you should just let your plants establish their root systems first.

If you do notice the proliferation of weeds in early spring, you may opt to apply herbicide. However, use it only on the affected areas and you should supplement it with a bit of fertilizer to offset its harmful effects.

Avoid Fertilizing Too Early

Another reason to avoid early spring fertilizing is to avoid giving them too much nutrients. This is most likely to happen if you used a slow-release fertilizer back in fall.

In the latter half of spring, you can finally use a 20-5-10 fertilizer mix. Do not use more than the recommended rate to avoid from fertilizer burn. In fact, using just half of what is recommended on the package might be better to avoid applying too much.

applying fertilizer

Source Amazon

The application of a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer in late spring just before the onset of the summer season will support optimal plant growth.

In particular, this allows the plants to create enough energy reserves for use in the summer. Once summer arrives, these reserves will help your plants to survive high foot traffic and hot temperatures.

5. Transplanting Plants

Transplanting Daylilies

Spring is a fantastic period for transplanting daylilies. This allows the plants to adapt to any extreme temperatures that may arrive after several weeks.

Homeowners who reside in areas with harsh winter seasons should transplant the daylilies in spring instead of fall. Daylilies with beautiful orange flowers should be transplanted once every two or so years.

They can proliferate quickly, so transplanting will ensure no overcrowding. Otherwise, your daylilies will compete with each other for nutrients. When you do transplant some of them, remember not to damage the fans and the roots.

Transplanting Roses

Apart from daylilies, roses should also be transplanted in spring. Homeowners residing in warm regions might prefer fall, but those in colder regions are better off doing it in early spring.

During fall, the roses are in their dormant stage. Transplanting them when they are actively growing will be bad as they are very sensitive to shock. However, you must first let the late spring frost arrive before you transplant the rose bushes.

In addition, the soil must have already warmed up from the cold and wet winter. The garden bed or the planting hole must be prepared in advance.

For one, soil needs to be rich in organic matter, which can be achieved through composting. Moreover, the planting hole must have a depth of at least 15 inches and a width of about 12 inches.

Transplanting Peonies

Finally, you can also transplant peonies in spring. Their blooms in the first year might not be impressive, but they eventually improve. You need to water them well two days before transplanting.

Otherwise, the stress of being moved could be too much. Use a spade to safely and efficiently remove the peonies from their original location.

Useful Guide: 5 Best Expandable Hose for Your Garden

During its first year of being transplanted, the peonies need an inch of water and a three-inch layer of mulch. The new location of the peonies must have well-draining and fertile soil.

Likewise, the area should be exposed to the sun to provide the plants with at a minimum of six hours of sunlight.

Essential Spring Gardening Tips

essential spring gardening tips

1. Give the Trees Some TLC

A great place to start with our gardening tips for spring is with your trees. This is an excellent time to take stock of how all the trees look, particularly watching for broken limbs, or those that are overhanging where you don't want them to be.

Trimming them now before the leaves start to grow will be much easier and neater. It will also ensure that the yard stays safe and looks great.

See our guide on the best bow saws on the market

2. Assess Where New Plants are Needed

Now it's time to take a look at the existing gardens and decide if you have any sparse areas that may need some filling in. New bushes and flowers should be planted in spring, so this is the perfect time to create a tally of just how many items you need.

Don’t forget that right now nothing has filled in yet, so those gaps may not be there in a month or two. It’s always important to leave space in a garden so that items can fill in.

If you do plan on purchasing new items, make sure that you consider the light conditions in that spot and the soil conditions. These two elements will be essential in picking shrubs, bushes, and flowers that will do well.

3. Give the Shrubs a Good Pruning

Spring is the time to prune shrubs to ensure they grow in a healthy and beautiful manner

This is also the time to prune shrubs to ensure they grow in a healthy and beautiful manner. Woody plants are prone to disease, damage, and dead branches, so those are what you want to focus on. Trimming will actually help to encourage growth.

Buying Guide: 7 Best Pruning Shears for a Healthier Garden

4. Flowering Perennials for a Pop of Color

Part of creating that ideal outdoor living lifestyle is to be surrounded by natural beauty, which can be accomplished through pops of color. This is most easily achieved through flowering perennials.

What’s great about flowering perennials is that they will return each year, so you don’t have to keep planting fresh ones, unlike annuals. If you're looking for high-impact perennials, some of the ones you'll want to check out include:

  • Mallow
  • English Lavender
  • Delphinium
  • Daylily
  •  Cannas
  • Coneflower
  • Hollyhock
  • Summer Phlox

Again, you’ll want to pick perennials based on how much sun/shade the spot gets, and the soil conditions. Keep in mind that some of these are lower maintenance than others, and more drought-resistant than others.

5. Top Up Soil and Mulch

Spring gardening is a good time to give your existing soil a boost of nutrients through topdressing

While this doesn't need to be done on a yearly basis, over time the soil and mulch will start to become compacted and drop in levels. This means your plants won't be getting the nutrients they need to thrive.

So, take a close look and see if any of the gardens could do with a topping up of nutrient-rich soil and fresh mulch. This can also be a good time to give your existing soil a boost of nutrients through topdressing.

Compost, manure, and humus are all great options for topdressing. 

Useful Guide: How to Make Compost at Home

6. Creating a Four-Season Porch

creating a four season room from a porch

While each of these tips has given you ways to enhance your garden and landscaping in general, what about those who are interested in creating a four season room from a porch?

This is the ideal way to enjoy the outdoors year-round while staying comfortable and shielded from the elements. A four-season porch means that, no matter how hot or cold it gets outside, the temperature in the porch is regulated and comfortable. 

But just because you will technically be indoors and screened in, you can still have that sense of natural greenery and beauty in your four-season porch - it’s just a matter of finding plants that do well in an indoor setting in pots.

The thing to keep in mind as you search for the ideal plants is that even though your four-season porch will get more sunlight than some of the rooms in your home, there will still be a lack of natural light. This means whatever you plant in pots needs to be able to tolerate lower light conditions. 

Those that specifically say they do well in full to partial shade are usually good options, or those that flourish in "bright shade" as it is sometimes called. Look for plants that are also drought-resistant since they will be relying on you for water. 

Some great options include potted shrubs such as the yellow camellia and umbrella plant; plants meant for hanging baskets like the bush violet or tuberous begonias; or even tropical succulents that can be placed on tables as a pop of interest. 

As long as you take into account the lower light conditions, you should be able to find plenty that will thrive in your four-season porch.

As the temperatures finally start to warm up, and your garden starts to show signs of life once again, now is the perfect time to get out there and start giving it the attention it needs to be healthy, strong, and beautiful this year.

Preparing a Spring Flower Garden

Let's look further into how you can make your spring flower garden beautiful, vibrant and lively this spring.

Useful Tips to Get Your Flower Garden Prepared

If you love to plant flowers, then the priority is to look out for the seeds

Spring is considered as the time begins a fresh start, and it also comes up with some exciting opportunities.

So why not use this time efficiently and effectively and start preparing for the flower garden so that some flourishing and blooming bouquets like wedding bouquets, birthday bouquets, funeral bouquets can be made.

“Blossom by blossom the spring begins.” - Algernon Charles Swinburne

Some essential things that you must consider and lookout, and prepare your garden for upcoming spring season:

1. Look Out for Seeds and Bulbs

If you love to plant flowers, then the priority is to look out for seeds, and if seeds are not available, then order for the new seeds. If you miss out on this initial step, then you will miss out on this bright summer display.

You can quickly get the seeds either online, or you can get it purchased from the nearest store, which is located in the neighborhoods. Be sure that all your seeds and bulbs should be in exceptional condition so that you can avoid any kind of disappointments within the season when you come to know that gardening season has passed.

Sunflower cultivation should be carried out around mid-spring. To learn more, see our guide on How to Grow Sunflowers at Home

2. Cleaning the Garden

Preparing a spring flower garden

This is another vital step which should be carried out before planting in your garden; you should ensure that you must clear all debris from your yard and garden beds.

The time has come to throw out all the waste from your garden to make room for the new plantation of flowers.

Remove all kinds of weeds from your garden and get them accumulated so that later on, you can build a fertilizer that is used for the gardening process later on.

Dig up the soil within the garden and flowerbeds to ensure that it doesn't harden.

3. Cleaning the Greenhouse

If you like to do the flower gardening within a greenhouse, so now it's time to clean that greenhouse plant for proper flower gardening.

If there is any leftover plant debris in your greenhouse plant, you should clear them properly. Be sure that floors of greenhouse plants should be cleaned appropriately so that they avoid bringing any kind of pests into your garden and spoil your whole plantation.

Apart from this, look out for the temperature and everything, which is quite essential to ensure that your greenhouse should be in an outstanding condition when you start your spring season.

4. Get Your Gates Repaired 

In case if you like to divide your garden for planting different delicate flowers, you should start to get your gates fixed.

If you are using wooden fencing, be sure that they are treated appropriately so that any kind of pest attack can be controlled.

Appropriately adjust all types of broken latches and get it re-paint them accordingly to give your garden an appealing when you start the planting process.

5. Clean the Gardening Tools

preparing your garden for spring

There might be the possibility that you have thrown all your gardening tools into the shed during the winter, so now it's the time to take them out of the storage.

Get them cleaned, inspect them and, if required, sharpen them also to ensure that they should be functioning quite well.

Get your damaged equipment repaired before beginning your gardening process.

6. Prepare Compost/Manure

If you like to get your crops to grow effectively when the spring season comes, you should be having a sufficient amount of garden compost and manure.

Though, you should avoid using any kind of fertilizer or pesticides that could spoil your flower gardening. As kind of undesirable weeds or plants which are picked from the garden required to be placed in a fertilizer area.

Whereas, on the other side, it's also essential and sensible that you should gather any kind of animal droppings within your garden and get it to store to use it as a fertilizer.

Don't miss our detailed guide to seasonal gardening for beginners for more info. 

Time to Get Busy Gardening in Spring 

In conclusion, there are many gardening tasks to conduct in spring. This is a period when certain weeds and pests can spread and damage your garden.

On the other hand, spring is also a time for pruning, transplanting, and applying fertilizer. If you take all of this into account, you’ll surely have a healthy spring garden that’s also ready to face the approaching summer season.

If you have any queries, feel free to give us a comment.

Gardening in Spring

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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