By Oanhie “Shinsen” Pham, Staff Writer

Tending the garden becomes a breeze when you have it all prepared.

Ahh. Spring is in the air. With the spring season comes warmer weather, fragrant flowers and plants. Imagine your home decorated with fresh-cut flowers straight from your yard or tossing a salad with delectable greens grown by your own green thumb. Not sure where or how to start? Below are some tips to help you get started.

Supplies-

Gather up your gardening tools. A lot of supplies can be found at your local home improvement store or plant nursery. To make tending your garden easier, prepare a small caddy or bucket that can hold small, frequently used supplies (such as gardening gloves, pruning shears and hand trowel) so you can tote them around. In addition to all the tools, a garden knee pad will be a good, inexpensive item to have.
Prepare the land-

Order plants online, check out your local garden store or ask a neighbor. See if you have a plant nursery nearby. The selection may be much better. When looking for plants to add to your garden, find out watering requirements and how much maintenance they need.  Some great things to plant in the spring are shrubs, trees, perennials such as the daylily and hosta, and flowers that will bloom come summer. It is also a good time to sow the seeds of cool-season flowers such as poppies and sweet peas, or vegetables such as lettuce and spinach, according to www.marthastewart.com.

Make sure the soil is ready to be worked on. When to start depends on where you live. You can begin if there is no danger of frost. Clear out your garden area by removing debris and weeds. Rake up old, fallen leaves and mow the lawn. Check your soil with a soil test (kits can be store-bought) to make sure it’s OK for plants to grow in. If the soil is ready to be used, spread compost/manure and soil amendments over it. (www.marthastewart.com recommends a compost layer of 4 inches).

Another option for your garden is to purchase or create raised beds. Although the level of difficulty in building one is low, it might take a few hours. To get an idea on how to start, check out this video.

Raised beds will organize your garden and give it an aesthetic touch. For example, if you’re looking to create a raised bed for an assortment of herbs and veggies, adding dividers will allow you to keep the plants contained yet separated in one box. This video from The Home Depot talks about gardening raised beds.

If your area is known to have wild rabbits, moles and other uninvited garden-lovers, you can help protect your garden by fencing it up. Rabbit fences can keep rabbits and other pests out.  If you make raised beds, chicken wire (or similar) on the bottom should keep moles from digging through.

Maintain your garden-

Prune shrubs and bushes in your garden. If there are any dead or damaged branches, remove them. Deadhead old flowers to allow your plants to flower more. Preparing a garden is only half the journey. Regular maintenance helps ensure your efforts won’t go to waste. Obvious to-dos (easier said than done) include mowing the lawn, keeping your garden free from debris and other unwanted intruders, and giving all your plants the right amount of water and sunlight. When your plants start to bloom, you’ll know your patience is paying off. Happy gardening!

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