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Early Spring Garden Projects

These early spring garden projects will get a jump start on your garden and will get you outside too! From lawn care ideas to tips for growing perennials in the spring, i’ve got you covered.

I know that in most parts of the country, the ground is still covered with snow, but as any good gardener will tell you, “it’s never to early to start thinking about spring gardening!”

Spring is just around the corner and daylight savings on the horizon, so now is the time to think of getting our gardens ready.

Are you like me in the late winter?  As soon as the sun starts to shine and the temps go up a bit, I seem to feel that urge to get out there and do something.

Many times though, it’s far too early to plant anything. However, there are lots of things that you can do to get ready. 

Collage with rake, bird house, lawn care, pots, seeds and flowers and words reading 18 Tips for Early Spring Gardening.

But planting is not the only gardening thing that you can do to get ready for the warm weather.  There are lots of other things to think about now.  

This is my list of early spring garden projects that can be done (and in some cases NEED to be done!)   I enjoy this kind of project so much more this time of the year too, because the anticipation of what is to come is so much stronger.

Are you ready for spring?  Check out my early spring gardening check list here.

Does your Garden look like this right now?  Don’t worry!  Neither does mine.  But, trust me, it will before too long.

These photos were taken last year in Mid May and early June.  But getting these results doesn’t just happen.

Getting results like this in summer means that some early spring garden projects need to be done in early spring.

Get your garden ready now with these early spring garden projects

NOW is the time to get started on some very early spring gardening tasks.  These are my tried and true early spring garden projects that will make sure I get these results year after year.

1. Prepare for early lawn care

This is at the top of my early spring garden projects for a reason.   A lush, green lawn is such an important part of a great garden.  

We all enjoy entertaining in the summer, and a wonderful lawn adds so much to the atmosphere of your garden setting.  

Early spring is the time to take stock of the condition of your lawn after a winter of it not growing.  It will show what needs to be done to get it ready for spring when you can easily see the problems lurking there. 

I have a lot of lawn area and the back yard has quite a few weeds growing.  It definitely needs some TLC in the spring.

I’ll start by raking my lawn early in the spring to remove dead grown and winter debris.  This brings light as well as air to the soil, which encourages the grass to grow.  Rake the lawn to remove thatch

Now is the perfect time to care for your lawn.  Don’t wait until the heat of summer hits.  

When you are hosting a barbecue party in summer and your lawn is lush and green, you’ll be glad you started now.

2. Clean and repair birdhouses

Some birds visit us all year round here in NC and many really start visiting when the weather starts to turn warm.  Now is the time to check the birdhouses.  Make sure they are firmly mounted.

Clean bird feeds and fill them with fresh seed, once they are dry.   Consider creating a pile of nesting materials in your yard where the birds can easily take stuff to make their nests.

This little bird house needs a make over this year.  It belonged to my mother who died last year and I will treasure it once I fix the damaged parts.

Inspect bird houses in the early spring.

Now is the time to clear away the junk

One my my most needed early spring garden projects is cleaning up after winter.  Winter can be hard on a garden.   All sorts of garden debris and other refuse seems to gather everywhere around the yard.

3. Clear away refuse

Check the drainage ditches and walk around your yard to see what can be gathered and put out for garden refuse pick up.

Our local authority allows me to put yard debris out every week and I have a whole row of old trash cans just waiting for this job.  Plants and lawns grow best in soil that drains well, so gather up those leaves, gather the weeds, and clean out the drainage ditches!  

If you have a compost pile, even better.  I use a rolling compost pile.

It is not very pretty, as this picture shows, but it is VERY easy to turn and all that yard refuse will turn into “black gold” that will work miracles in my garden and on my lawns.

This pile is just LOADED with rich hummus under all the refuse.  Dumping my winter time yard refuse on this pile makes the clean up part quite easy.

Rolling compost pile

(One of the ways to deal with squirrels digging up bulbs is to put barriers over the planting area. If you have used these, now is the time to remove them so tender shoots can grow easily.

4. Tend to the bird baths

My bird baths are often discolored by the end of the winter.  They all need a good cleaning and scrubbing and then need to be refilled with water.

See this article for how to easily and safely clean a bird bath.

One of the early spring tasks in my yard is to clean my birdbath to encourage the early birds

Tidy up the spring bulbs

Many spring bulbs start sending up leaf shoots during some warm winter days and then suffer a bit from a cold snap by getting brown edges to the leaves.

5. Think spring bulbs

The bulbs are just fine, they need the cold before they start sending up the flowers, but you can trim the leaves a bit to tidy things up.  

While you are at it, make a sketch of where the spring bulbs are and put it in your gardening planner.  Once they have stopped growing, it will be hard to know where to plant your perennials without a sketch showing you where the bulbs are underground.

This was my display of tulips last spring. They have just broken through for next year and I expect an even better show. But if I wait until they are finished and the leaves are gone, I will have NO IDEA where to plant around them.

So sketch the spots for those bulbs. Trust me. Memory doesn’t work!

Display of spring bulbs

6. Check your mulched areas

This job is at the top of my must-dos of early spring garden projects. I have 9 large garden beds so I spend a lot of time (and money) on mulching every year.  

And no matter how nicely the mulched areas looked last fall, there are still areas where the mulch has degraded or (it sometimes seems) just plain disappeared!  

Add mulch to the bare areas so that the weeds that we all know are lurking there won’t be able to grow as easily.

This area of my garden bed was mulched last year but if I leave that bald spot, it will be covered in weeds by mid spring! Check my tips for preparing spring flower beds here.Top up mulch on bare spots in garden beds

Do your seating areas need repair?

Winter is hard on outdoor furniture. Now is the time to check to see what damage has been done.

7. Check your outdoor seating areas

Last year, I bought new patio cushions for my seating area which rests under a huge Magnolia tree. By mid winter, the cushions were a green mess and I honestly thought I would need to throw them away.

But I threw them in the washing machine with some spray on stain remover (it took two washes) and they look almost like new.  

Note to self:  Next year, put the patio cushions in the shed in the fall!  

One of my summer projects for this seating area is going to be to sand the seat and bench and give it a fresh coat of paint in a dark green color. Stay tuned for the transformation.

This seating area will get a fresh coat of paint this spring.

8. Touch up yard decorations

Of all of my early spring garden projects, this one is my favorite.  I love to add decor to my garden.  Do you have some yard decorations that will need a touch up to look their best for spring and summer?  

I have an old mail box that I salvaged from a make over that I did last summer.  I plan to use to hold my gardening tools, and have a garden decoration too.  

It’s very rusty, but will make a great project for early spring when i can’t actually be gardening.

I plan to paint it and stencil on the side. It will make a lovely yard decoration when done.

This mail box will hold my garden tools and look decorative when it is renovated.

Ornamental Grasses get untidy during the winter.

Tend to grasses early in the spring. They are great for the birds in winter, but their plumes will be dead now.

9. Cut back ornamental grasses

I let my Japanese Silver grass get very tall in the winter because it sends up beautiful plums above the plant. But early spring is the time to cut it right now to about 6 inches to encourage lush growth during the spring and summer.

If I leave this plant for even a few more weeks, ALL of these fronds will be covering my garden bed.  Now is the time to prune them.

This Japanese silver grass needs pruning in early spring.

10. Scrub those clay pots.

Clay pots get very dirty if they are left out over the winter. Now is the time to soak them so that they will be ready for the plants when the weather is warm enough for them to be planted.  

See my blog post on how to tackle this chore. 

I cleaned most of my clay pots last fall, but left out these to see if the succulents would over winter (most would not) so I have these to clean up before replanting in them.Clean up clay pots in early spring

Cutting back means healthy growth later.

Spring is the time to cut back perennials since they will start growing soon.

11. Cut back perennials

 Sometimes I do this in the fall, but more often, I leave this chore for the early spring, to keep some seed pods for winter birds.

Perennials can be cut back almost to the ground level in most cases without hurting them at all.

This hydrangea can be cut all the way down, and will flower beautifully this summer.   I will just cut it down leaving a bit of the crown close to the ground.

This will make clearing out the pine needles that have accumulated an easy task too!  I can’t wait for those blooms to grow in a few months!

Prune out the dead wood for a gorgeous hydrangea later

Be sure to also check out my guide to propagating hydrangeas.  It features a tutorial demonstrating hydrangea cuttings, tip rooting, air layering and division of hydrangea plants.

12. Prune your roses

 In most cases, you will be pruning your roses just as the plant will be breaking the winter dormancy.  In warm climates, like NC, this will be fairly early in the year, just after the last frost.  

Roses bear flowers on last years wood.  Trim off any old, dead canes. Be sure to prune so that the center of the bush is open for best air circulation.  

I will cut this one down to about 18″ tall and thin out the suckers and dead wood.

It’s hard to believe that a rose bush that looks like this now will give out those lovely blooms, but they’ll be here before I know it!Prune those roses now

Dead wood won’t regrow!

Check out the base of perennials that have hard wood now.

13. Remove dead wood

This goes for roses but also for other trees and shrubs too. Nothing will grow from dead wood, so get rid of it.  

This goes for most suckers too. They sap the life from your plant and should be removed.

TIP:  If it is too early for you to prune shrubs, you can still inspect the plants. Take some ribbon with you and tie it where you want to prune once the weather warms up.

So get out those garden gloves and your pruning shears and get ride of the dead wood. You’ll be glad you did come summer time.

Now is the time to prune dead wood from shrubs and perennials

14. Spring weeding

Even though I have it listed as #14, weeding is at the top of my list for early spring garden project. Weeding can the bane of my gardening life, if I let it be. Each year,

I say that I am going to pull up weeds during the winter on warm days, and each year, I neglect this. But early spring is a good time to weed as long as the ground is not too wet, AND it’s the best time to do this job.

The roots of the weeds are shallow and they will come out easily this time of the year.  

This border that I planted late last summer looks as though it needs some TLC l right now, but those weeds will be out in less than a half hour and the bed will be beautiful.

I actually find weeding a relaxing way to pass the time as long as I’m not doing it in the awful heat of summer.Spring is a good time to weed your borders

Some veggies love the cold

Not all vegetable gardens are suited for the heat of summer. Some actually prefer the cool temperatures of spring!

15. Early spring Vegetables

Many vegetables thrive when planted in the early spring because they love the cooler weather. Some popular ones are English peas, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

Here in NC, these plants don’t do well in the summer at all, so early spring is when I have to plant them if I want to grow them.  See my list of cold hardy vegetables here.

Cold hardy vegetable

If I get an early start with these veggies, I’ll be sampling some of my favorite veggie side dishes before you know it.

Plant cool loving vegetables in early spring16. Check your lawn edges

 Inspect plastic lawn edging to see if it needs replacing.  If you edge manually with trenches, now is a good time to tidy these up so the edges will be ready when the lawns start to grow.

Doing it early means that the edges will only need cutting into soil, not into lawn that is encroaching into the borders.

Inspect plastic edges for breaks early in the spring and repair it.

Get a jump on spring inside the house

Don’t forget that spring starts earlier if you get a head start on it in the house.

17. Start seeds indoors

Get a head start on spring but planting seeds for flowers and vegetables indoors.  I have a large plant stand that sits outside during the spring and summer.

During the winter, it sits in front of my glass sliders and gets southern sunlight.

It is the perfect spot for my plant cuttings and seed starting efforts.  See my tips for starting seeds here. 

Start your seeds indoors

18.Divide perennials

One of my favorite early spring garden projects is to divide my perennials.  MORE PLANTS FOR FREE!! Early spring is the perfect time to divide perennials.

Many of them really benefit from being divided for best growth.

Either plant the divisions in another part of your garden, or share them with some of your plant loving friends.  This very large hellebore will give me more shade plants and is due for division.

I also have several hostas and some day lilies that will get divided too.

Divide perennials in early spring.

If you put these early spring garden projects to use, your garden and lawns will be the talk of your neighborhood this summer.  Trust me, it’s worth the work when those compliments start coming in!

Is there something else that you do to get your lawn and garden ready in the early spring months?  Please share your favorite early spring garden projects in the comments below.

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Saturday 9th of April 2016

Can't wait to get my garden going even though it's snowing today


Sunday 10th of April 2016

Hi Robin, We had a frost last night but that SHOULD be the end of it for the year! Carol


Thursday 3rd of March 2016

After this week's storm and a new 6" of snow, it's going to be a while before this Canadian gardener can get outside to start any of these. Darn.


Thursday 3rd of March 2016

We are fortunate here in NC to be able to garden this early. I was out in my SHORTS the other day!

Lee M.

Wednesday 2nd of March 2016

Great post with a lot of useful information. I cannot wait to,get outside into the garden again!


Thursday 3rd of March 2016

It's the best time of the year for it!

Renee Fuller

Tuesday 1st of March 2016

Been out working it before spring officially arrives. Thanks for sharing your tips!


Wednesday 2nd of March 2016

My pleasure Renee. I love this time of the year!

Terri Oliver Steffes

Tuesday 1st of March 2016

That is a thorough article. I am ready for spring! I'm seeing daffodil leaves up and that's making me so excited!


Tuesday 1st of March 2016

my bulbs are just starting to come up too. So exciting! Carol

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