HGTV’s Top 10 Rules for Spring Gardening

No doubt this beautiful weekend left a lot of you feeling a great deal of excitement (and probably a little impatience too!) for the arrival of spring. Finally! As we all sprang forward, you probably got to thinking about all of the work that needs to be done in your yard to make it the pride of your neighborhood.

Birmingham is teeming with fantastic landscaping service companies, garden designers, and landscape architects who can help you with everything from maintenance to renovations, depending on exactly what you need. There are also a number of phenomenal garden shops and gardening resources where you can pick up supplies or take a class. The point is: Now is the time to get to work and our area is rich with experts and materials!

HGTV is a wonderful place to turn in search of do-it-yourself tips, strategic advice, and general information about homes and gardens. We thought we would share with your their Top 10 Rules for Spring Gardening to give you inspiration and guidance as temperatures warm, flowers bloom and grass greens.

  1. Work the soil only when it’s moderately dry. Tilling, walking on, or cultivating the soil when it’s wet leads to creating something akin to adobe: the whole structure of the soil is destroyed.
  2. Provide drainage. If your soil is too wet to work, use raised beds to enable earlier planting in the spring. The soil in raised beds dries out and warms up faster than the surrounding earth.
  3. Check seed packages for the number of days to harvest. Plant cool-season plants such as peas, onions, Swiss chard, spinach and lettuce in early spring so they mature before hot weather arrives. Delay planting warm-weather crops until you’re safely past the last spring frost and the soil has warmed sufficiently.
  4. Know your zone. Whether you use USDA or Sunset zones, choose your plants not only for cold-hardiness but for heat-tolerance as well. Example: Peonies don’t bloom where winters are mild. (Central Alabama is split between zones 7 and 8.)
  5. Ease your transplants into the garden. If you’ve started seedlings indoors, expose them gradually to the conditions they’ll have in the garden: start the pots off for only a few hours in a sunny place, then gradually increase the amount of sun exposure before installing the transplants in the garden.
  6. Use Mother Nature to feed your plants. The best amendment for your soil is one you can make yourself: compost. If you don’t already have a compost pile, start one now.
  7. Water deeply. Your veggie garden will need about an inch of water a week; if enough rain hasn’t fallen, water till the top 6 inches of soil are wet. Simply wetting the soil’s surface with daily watering doesn’t reach most of the root zone and is harmful to plants. Saturate the soil around the base of tomato plants and avoid getting the foliage wet to reduce the chances of foliar diseases.
  8. Rotate your veggie crops. Grow them in different spots every year. Tomatoes are especially vulnerable to diseases that may linger in the soil or in plant residue.
  9. Synchronize pruning chores to bloom time. Prune summer-blooming shrubs, such as abelia and butterfly bush, in early spring. Buds form on the new wood that emerges the same year. Later, cutting spent flowers on your butterfly bush will produce new flowers.
  10. Exception: Hydrangeas. Hydrangeas are the exception to the pruning rules for summer-flowering shrubs. Mophead hydrangeas — and others that flower in summer — need to be pruned in fall. Fall-blooming hydrangeas such as H. paniculata are pruned in late winter or early spring.