Prepare your soil for spring planting

The key to maintaining a healthy, beautiful garden or flowerbed is proper preparation of soil. Fertilizer, plant food and water are most successful when applied to a healthy garden bed. With very little effort, soil can be improved so your flowers, trees and shrubs will become established quickly, and grow stronger and healthier.

Whether you’re planting a whole new landscape bed, a single shrub, or a flat of annuals, properly preparing the soil will help your plants grow faster, stronger, and healthier. You can begin improving your soil as soon as it’s workable in spring. (Quick test: Your soil is workable when a handful of soil doesn’t stick together in a glob.)

When to amend soil?

The key in the spring is to know the right time to “work” or amend your soil. To determine if your soil is ready, grab a handful and squeeze it. If the soil retains a ball-like shape, the soil is too wet to work. If it crumbles, it is ready to be tilled.

Soil preparation benefits:

  • Improving the porosity allows more water and nutrients into the root zone
  • Reduces runoff compared to hard, crusty soil
  • More oxygen becomes available to the plant roots
  • Adapting the soil can provide nutrients to help plants with special needs, such as acid-loving evergreens and azaleas, thrive
  • Roots are encouraged to spread out and develop into a sturdy underground network to take in vital nutrients and moisture

If you still prefer to create your own recipe, some companies offers a complete selection of landscape soils and soil conditioners, such as organic humus, manures and peat moss.

How to prepare soil for planting trees and shrubs

To prepare the soil for planting trees and shrubs, you can:
1. Spread the materials over the planting bed and till them into the soil, or
2. Mix the conditioners with the soil previously removed from the planting holes before replacing it around the plant roots.

Both methods can turn almost any soil into a planting area in which your trees, shrubs and ornamentals will thrive.

Add organic materials to the soil

Organic matter breaks up clay soil, adds substance to sandy soil, and provides the porosity that’s needed to encourage your plants’ root systems. You can’t have a healthy plant without a good root system, and soil with proper porosity will:

  • Make more oxygen available to plants’ roots
  • Reduce runoff compared to hard, crusty soil
  • Allow more more water and nutrients to reach the roots
  • Encourage roots to spread out and develop into a sturdy underground network

How to do it

Add organic materials by spreading them over the top of a bed, then turning or tilling them in – or by mixing them with soil removed from planting holes before backfilling around transplants.

You can add numerous organic materials to your soil individually or, to remove the guesswork about what and how much to add, use a scientifically formulated product. It replaces do-it-yourself mixtures of topsoil, peat, and manure – and you can choose a mixture created especially for your plants: Flowers & Vegetables, Roses, and Trees, Shrubs & Ornamentals.

Control weeds early

To make your garden maintenance easier this year, keep weed control in mind when preparing your beds and planting this spring. You can prevent many weeds from growing in your garden by sprinkling  “Garden Weed Preventer” between your plants. Its built-in applicator makes it quick, accurate, and easy to use, and it will head off weed seeds before they germinate.

If you find some weeds already growing, spray them with grass killer. It is best to spray weeds before putting in new plants. If you do need to spray around your healthy plants, do so with care. Roundup should only come into contact with plants you want to eliminate. Roundup comes in spray bottles that make it easy to apply precisely. For best results, apply Roundup when the temperature is 60 degrees or above.