Time to Dig In: Simple Tips for Preparing Your Spring Garden

In my neck of the woods spring is just around the corner and if you like gardening as much as I do, then you’re probably itching to get out and dig in the dirt. I am happy to announce that I am joining a group of fabulous garden bloggers for the season, to present Tuesdays in the Garden. Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday, from now through September, we will be writing about garden-related topics, and sharing each others’ posts. This way you will receive not one, but seven different takes on the subject. This week is titled Season Opener, and is all about the way we prepare our gardens for the new season.

For me this is probably my favorite time of year to garden. It’s still cool outside and I have plenty of energy stored up during the winter. I’ve been busy dreaming and planning on what I may change, buy, and plant for the new season.

Tips for Preparing Your Spring Garden

Simple tips for preparing your spring garden.

As I walk around the garden in late winter I noticed a few plants are started to green up, and a couple, like these pretty hellebore, are blooming. 

There are 3 main areas I typically tackle this time of year:


Tips for preparing your spring gardenSpring Garden Cleanup

If you have been reading this blog for a while you may have read my post, Pruning Perennials Fall or Spring? This is a personal preference, but I like to leave just about all of my cleanup until spring. I enjoy the winter interest that the seed pods provide, and I also feel like the extra plant material is helpful during a tough winter, to both the plants and the wildlife.

So, as you can see from the photo above, I have a good deal of dead foliage from day lilies and catmint in this part of the garden. All of this will need to be racked out and cut back.

Ways to prepare your spring garden.

I also like to rake out the beds, especially in areas where I know there are some spring beauties getting ready to bloom like these primroses. We clear out as many leaves that we can in the fall, though we have more than anyone could want. In fact, recently we had two oaks cut down to help with the leaf clutter, and since they were very close to the house, and many years old, we were worried that the perfect storm could take out our house along with the trees.

Beautyberry Bush


This is the best time to prune shrubs. This beautyberry or C. dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst,”  is pruned back to 12 inches every spring. 

Beauty Berry in winter~gardenmatter.com

Here it is at the end of winter.

Pruning callicarpa aka beauty berry

After pruning in the spring.

Beautyberry Bush - full size

By the end of summer it still reaches 5 feet in height and is filled with beautiful berries.

pruning hydrangea limelight in the spring

Other shrubs such as butterfly bushes and some hydrangeas, like this hydrangea Limelight, are good candidates for early spring pruning. Not all hydrangeas should be pruned however, only those that produce blooms on new growth should be pruned in late winter, or early spring. See more about pruning hydrangeas here.

Pruning dead and old leaves in spring garden

Of course it goes without saying that you can prune any broken or dead plant material at any time, and you’ll probably see a lot of this after winter.

Tree peony just budding in the spring.

Dividing/Moving Plants in the Spring

Chives in the spring

This is also my favorite time to divide many perennials as they are just starting to emerge from the ground. These chives really do not need dividing but there are a couple that are out of line, and could be potted up and moved elsewhere, or more than likely, I’ll give some to a friend. Everyone loves fresh chives.

Hosta ~ Dividing Perennials ~ gardenmatter.comThe best time to divide and move hosta is the spring, when you can easily see where to separate the plant.

Penstemon husker's red volunteer

Every year I have volunteers of this pretty penstemon, Huskers Red. Sometimes I move them to a different areas of the garden, or I pot them up to give away.

Geranium volunteer in spring

Another hardy volunteer is this hardy geranium sanguienum.  It’s a great filler plant and very easy to grow, with numerous bright fuchsia flowers all summer long.

Magnolia blooming in spring

The sky is so blue and the magnolia is just starting to bloom. Looks like it’s going to be a great spring.

Now, please stop by and see what these other fabulous garden bloggers have to share for their season opener.

Tuesdays in the garden bloggers bimothly gardening posts


7 Gardening Chores for Spring @ Frugal Family Home


March Garden Chores for Zone 5 @ Simplify Live Love


Spring Garden Chores @ The Freckled Rose


Refresh Your Flower Pots @ An Oregon Cottage


Spring Garden Projects @ Homemade Food Junkie



About Patti Estep

Patti is the creator of Hearth and Vine, a home and garden blog filled with projects to inspire your creative side. She loves crafting, gardening, decorating and entertaining at her home in Pennsylvania. When she is not working on a project at home or searching for treasures at nurseries and thrift stores with her girlfriends, you’ll probably find her with family and friends, at a restaurant, or home party enjoying new and different food adventures.

Affiliate Account Hearth and Vine/Patti Estep is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.


  1. Awesome advice Patti and I agree spring or fall – it’s a personal choice and sometimes down here it’s both. With long growing seasons and light winters plants have this tendency to take over if we’re not paying attention. This is such helpful info!

  2. I’ve cleared out my garden beds and we’ve trimmed most of our shrubs, roses, and other plants that needed it. We had a really rough winter this year and there was a lot of work to do. But I’m glad we have caught up.

  3. Love this inspirational post! I had to click over and read about hydrangeas too:) One of my favorite plants! Our spring is far behind and I’m so frustrated. Sounds like the whole country had a long winter sleep. You plants look a bit farther ahead than ours though. I’m so excited to be blog hopping with you. Happy Gardening!

  4. Oh, beautyberry is such a favorite of mine with those incredible purple berries in the fall – but it looked so ‘meh’ the rest of the year. Maybe it was because I never really pruned it back that much. 🙂

    Love the tips here – makes me want to get going in the garden!

    • Hi Jami,

      Yes, I learned this trick from a speaker at a plant symposium years ago. Cut that guy way back.

      It’s still snowing here but maybe next week! fingers crossed!

  5. I’m counting down the days until the mild weather returns! Your hellebore flowers are absolutely lovely. It’s definitely smart cutting down old trees before they create a problem. I have that on my to-do list this season. I’ve always wanted to plant a Limelight hydrangea in my yard. Hydrangeas never seem to do very well for me here even though I feed them. It’s always nice to divide hostas. They are like the plant that keeps on giving! That magnolia tree is simply stunning. Love all your gardening tips Patti!

  6. Pruning always leaves me a bit mystified. I’ve read that trees need to be pruned in the dead of winter…but not all trees, just some? And my berry bushes need to be cut back badly. I haven’t started much at all in the garden yet. Never even cleaned up my garden after last winter. I need to get busy! YIKES!! Look forward to seeing how pretty your flowers become throughout the gardening season. 🙂

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