There’s nothing I am more impatient for than the end of spring. About this time every year, I start packing up my winter coats and flipping through seed catalogs, lusting over the gorgeous blooms. Yet, this year seems particularly averse to my wishes, as more than half the country experiences some of the coldest weather ever recorded.
Still, as I begrudgingly drag back out my space bag of winter things, I haven’t given up on the warm weather ahead. To ensure my yard, my tools and I are ready as soon as the snow melts and the sun shines, here’s what I’m doing to prepare for spring.
Checking Yard Systems
My first stop was definitely the structures and systems around my yard that make my gardening and maintenance efforts easier. By ensuring that these are working properly, I can rest assured that both my established perennials and my seasonal seedlings are getting the nutrients they need to thrive once weather warms.
I have both drip lines and sprinklers in my yard because I live in an area that doesn’t get much rain. Still, winter temperatures can drop low enough to freeze this system, and birds, cats and other critters can wreak havoc any time of year. I usually call a sprinkler repair service near me if I find signs of any issues — like chewed-up sprinkler heads or cracked drip lines — because I prefer to let professionals handle water-related systems.
I also pay attention to my gutters at late winter/early spring. Winter storms can whip up all kinds of debris that will get lodged in gutters — if screens or guards aren’t properly installed. You’ll need to spend a few hours cleaning the gunk out of your gutters and checking for rust spots that might need patching. I have screens on my gutters — something I advise all homeowners to do — so this chore doesn’t take as long.
Repairing Yard Tools
It’s been a long time since I did anything in the garden, which means my tools probably aren’t in the shape I need them to be come full spring. That’s why I devote at least a full weekend day to organizing my yard tools and performing maintenance as needed.
The lawn mower is typically the tool that requires the most service at the end of winter. After a year of use, the blades on the lawn mower have likely dulled and need to be sharpened. I send the blades to a local lawn mower repair shop, but you can do this yourself with the right equipment. You should also look for signs of rust, which can bloom during the dark, rainy weather that often accompanies low temps. One or two small rust spots can be cleaned or patched, but rampant rust might be an indication it’s time to replace your old machine.
You should perform a similar check with other cutting tools, like chainsaws, hedge trimmers, sheers and clippers as well as shovels and trowels. It’s a good idea to pour out the old fuel in any gas-powered equipment, like blowers and chainsaws, and replace it with a brand-new mixture of oil and gas. Any broken tools should be fixed or replaced, and it’s a good idea to pick up a new pair of gardening gloves while you’re out.
Then, put everything away in an orderly manner, so when it is time to rake, shovel and trim, you’ll know exactly where to find what tool. There are many schools of thought when it comes to organizing a garden shed, but I live by the following tricks:
- Open organization. Your shed isn’t your kitchen, so it’s okay for shelves and counter-tops to look cluttered. It’s better to have everything out where you can see it than hidden and presumed missing.
- Diverse systems. I have shelves, pegboard, hooks, baskets, magnet strips and more lining my shed. I find that different tools benefit from different storage styles, and you should experiment with different systems to see what you and your tools like best.
- Clear schematic. I hang a map of the shed on the inside of the shed door, so anyone looking for anything knows where to find it — and where to put it back. Underneath, I include a calendar of yard-work chores, too, to keep everything on schedule.
Planting Seeds and Seedlings
The last thing I do to prepare for the spring is start planting my seeds and seedlings – indoors. The temperatures outside aren’t quite warm enough outside to ensure my precious pretties will survive and thrive, but if I want them to bloom beautifully anytime soon, I need to get them growing. I use small pots and seed-starting trays (available at any gardening store) and place them in front of a bright window. It’s exciting to watch them grow, and it makes me feel like spring is actually on its way.