During the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic, growing plants and vegetables was both calming and invigorating. It is no wonder that many people have become gardeners for the first time. But now that life is getting back to normal, the care of these plants may have gone down the drain. If your garden looks like it needs a little attention this year, there is still hope!

“Don’t be discouraged if your garden isn’t looking great right now,” says Erin Schanen, expert of the Troy-Bilt garden, volunteer master of the garden and creator of The impatient gardener blog and Youtube channel. In many cases, she says, your neglected plants can get healthy again, but it won’t happen overnight.

If you’re ready to revive your weak flora in a thriving garden, read on. Here are some of the essential steps you should take.

Clear your flower beds

Out with the old, and then with the new, gardening experts say.

“Before planting new flowers, shrubs or vegetables, it is important to first remove any fall and winter debris that has entered,” explains Bailey Carson, home expert at Angi, the home improvement recommendation site.

“Get rid of leaves, needles, pine cones and weeds, plus any other unwanted waste like acorns, twigs and moldy mulch,” Carson adds. It’s important to start your spring garden with a clean slate, even if you only have a container garden.

And don’t forget the weeds, says Schanen. The longer you wait to tackle them, the more important the work will be, so don’t delay.

“Dig them out with a soil knife, trowel or garden fork to also remove the roots and shake off the soil,” Schanen explains.

Redefine the area

Edging looks harder than it is, but it can make a huge difference in a garden.

“Few things can create a better garden than a cool, tidy edge,” says Schanen. “If you used some sort of edging material, make sure it’s well weeded and level. If you have used stones or bricks, that may mean removing them, putting them away and replacing them.

Carson says edging can also help define the division between your landscape and your lawn.

“To clean up last year’s edging, a pair of edging shears might be all you need. Once that’s cleaned up you’ll be amazed at the difference, ”Carson says.

Examine your plants for winter damage

Photo by Jonathan Raith Inc.

Once you’ve cleared the spot through the curbs, you can get a better view of what still needs to be done.

“For shrubs and trees, check and prune dead leaves and broken branches or branches. Then take the time to cut back your perennials to promote fresh spring growth, ”Carson explains.

Carson says to carefully examine your garden for damage from creatures. If you spot any, she says to consider building a fence or adding plants to your garden that are known to deter animals, such as those labeled “deer resistant.”

“If you are freshening up a pot or a window garden, now is the time to add new plants and seeds. Strawberries, tomatoes, radishes, and hot peppers thrive in containers, but don’t be afraid to try other small-breed fruits, vegetables, herbs and plants as well, ”Carson explains.

Fertilize your plants

Carson suggests applying an organic granular fertilizer to any landscape plants that have survived the winter and any new ones you’ve added.

“To protect the foliage, be sure to sprinkle the fertilizer around the base of your plants, rather than directly on them. After that, spread a pre-emergent weed control product in the beds to prevent weed seeds from germinating, ”Carson explains.

Schanen says heavy feeders like clematis and hydrangeas will benefit from a dose of slow-release fertilizer. As a bonus, it will nourish your soil. She recommends organic fertilizers because there is less risk of over-fertilizing and burning the tender new growth.

“Apply the appropriate amount as directed on the package around the drip line of the plant you are feeding. If you started with good soil, most perennials and shrubs won’t need a lot of fertilizer, ”says Schanen.

Be sure to water any fertilizer or amendment, she warns. Annuals need to be fertilized to continue producing flowers throughout the season and should be fed regularly once they start to grow.

Add new mulch

The last step in freshening up a garden is to apply a new layer of organic mulch, Carson explains. Mulch smothers weeds, protects and improves soil structure, and improves hydration, she says.

New mulch can help flower beds look cleaned and refreshed, Carson says. But she advises that the layer should not be thicker than 2-3 inches and that it should be added gradually to avoid crushing the plants.

“Organic mulches that will decompose and nourish the soil are best for plants,” says Schanen. “It could be compost, pine straw, rotting and shredded leaves from the previous fall, bark mulch, or even arborist shavings, which are the pieces of shredded branches and foliage created by the trees. arborists when the trees are removed. “

A few inches of mulch in a wide circle around the tree is enough.

“And don’t forget to remove the weeds before mulching. Any weeds left under the mulch will bounce back quickly and ruin the fresh look you’ve worked hard for, ”says Schanen.

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