Preparing the Ground for Spring Planting
A well prepared ground sets the stage for a healthier, more productive and ultimately, more attractive garden. No matter where you live, your top priority before you start any spring planting should involve preparing the ground for planting. Proper ground preparation is one way to prevent the spread of soil-borne diseases that may destroy an entire garden.
Clear Away Dead Plant Growth and Other Debris
If you’ve left old growth on perennials or didn’t remove your annuals when freezing temperatures killed them off, now is the time to do it. Look at the perennials very carefully to make sure that you don’t remove any new growth that may be hidden under dry leaves or sticks.
Before you do any tilling, loosen the top part of the soil with a rake, a hoe or other long-handled garden tool. This allows you to find any hard rocks, broken pieces of metal or other debris that would have damaged a tiller had you rushed to till the area before thoroughly inspecting it.
Tilling the Soil
Tilling your soil is very important because it loosens the soil and takes soil from the deepest area the tiller reaches and brings that up to the top, mixing the previous top soil with the rest of the soil. It breaks up soil to improve drainage, air circulation and give plant roots, the room they need to spread out as they grow.
Testing the Soil
You will need to till your soil more than once to make sure that soil amendments like compost and other organic materials get thoroughly mixed into the soil. Before tilling for the second time, go to your local home-improvement store to buy a soil testing kit.
When to Add Compost
If you don’t have your own compost to use, you can buy it from home improvement stores and garden centers. Till the compost into your soil to distribute it evenly, mixing it as thoroughly as possible while doing so. Compost improves the overall health of your soil by adding nutrients and other organic matter.
Knowing When to Start Planting
In the central part of the country through the Mid-Atlantic states into the southern part of New England, May 15th is the average estimated planting date. In far northern New England and the upper Midwest, wait until May 30th.
People who live in areas from the southern part of the Mid-Atlantic States to the northernmost part of the southeastern United States and across the southern portions of the Midwest may be able to begin planting around May 1st.
People who live in more temperate areas that are considered sub-tropical (including northern Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, parts of New Mexico, Northern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina) can probably begin planting as early as April 1st.