7 Ways to Transition Your Yard from Winter to Spring
6 mins read

7 Ways to Transition Your Yard from Winter to Spring

Spring may seem like it’s an awful long way away, but every day in the new year and the following months that pass, daylight hours are increasing. Spring is on the way and any tasks you can complete now will lessen the load in spring. Here are some suggestions for transitioning your yard from winter to spring.

  • Plant spring-blooming bulbs. Whether you are a procrastinator or you just forgot about that bag of tulip and daffodil bulbs, you might wonder if you can still plant your flower bulbs. It depends on where you live. If you live in the northern states, the answer is no. The ground is frozen and probably has a thick layer of snow on top. However, you can give yourself a couple of extra weeks to plant in the fall if you cover the planting area with a thick layer of straw to prevent the ground from freezing for a little while. Remove the straw after you plant the spring bulbs or you will attract unwanted pests like rabbits who will view that straw as a great winter home. If you live further south, you may still be able to plant the flower bulbs now and see blooms this spring. If you have tulip or daffodil bulbs suited to warmer climates, get them planted as soon as possible. You can plant as late as the beginning of February and have a good chance of seeing tulips and daffodils blooming this spring.
  • Prune trees and shrubs. Anytime you see a dead branch, a broken branch or a diseased branch, it should be immediately removed or pruned back to a healthy branch. Regular maintenance pruning is best done in the late winter. By trimming and pruning in the winter, the leaves are off the tree, making it possible to get a clear look to the structure of your tree. Remove damaged branches and look for branches that are crossing over each other. When the wind blows, these branches will rub each other and cause a break in the tender bark, giving bacteria and destructive insects an entry point. Trim your shrubs to remove damage or a wayward branch that sticks out beyond the rest. Pruning can also encourage the shrub to branch out with new growth, making it fuller. One caution: Some flowering shrubs bloom on last year’s growth and pruning them in winter will remove all the flower buds. This type of shrub should be pruned right after it blooms.
  • If you have large trees where safety is a concern, or you are going to need specialized pruning such as for orchard trees, it may be better to hire a professional.
  • Clean up debris. With the wind, rain and snow in winter, there can be a lot of small branches, pine cones and other debris falling into your yard or blowing in from the neighborhood. Start removing any debris that you do not want to mow over in the spring. Do not mow your lawn or vigorously rake it until the grass starts to turn green and grow again. Your lawn is weak and vulnerable to damage when it is dormant. Too much mowing or raking could damage it enough to kill the grass.

  • Check for pest damage. Check your plants frequently for signs of damage to lower branches and the trunks of young trees. Animals like rabbits, squirrels, field mice and many others are always looking for food, and you don’t want it to be your trees and shrubs. At the first sign of damage, take action to protect your plant. There are products available to purchase that you sprinkle on the ground or spray on the plants to ward off animals. Some smell like a predator animal, while others just have a scent that is unpleasant to animals. Motion detector lights can also help.

    The best method is to put some type of barrier between your plants and the pests. Chicken wire is inexpensive and can be removed once the grass is growing and the rabbits have a better food source. Watch out for your perennials when they start popping through the ground. Even the new shoots from your flower bulbs can fall victim to hungry animals. Invert a flowerpot over the vulnerable plants. It’s easy to put a pot over the plant in the evening and remove in the morning so you can enjoy the promise of flowers in a few days and your plants can enjoy the daytime sun.

  • Plant pansies. Pansies have to be one of the best winter flowers. If you are in the South, pansies are used as bedding plants in the winter. They will survive and keep blooming even in cold weather. Pansies will keep going even if they are covered in a random winter snow. They don’t need much care other than a little water if there has been a dry spell. Up North, pansies won’t survive the severe winters; however, it is the first flowering plant available in the early spring. The ground may not have thawed, but many gardeners will plant containers of pansies for that first taste of summer flowers. Fill your container with regular potting soil and plant the pansies fairly close. Be prepared to bring them into the garage or house if there is a sudden drop of temperature or even a last snowstorm.

  • Replenish mulch. Mulch will decompose eventually. This will happen faster if the pieces of mulch are very small or even shredded. Check your garden beds now and determine if any need the mulch replenished and order more. By ordering early, you will be able to get the same type of mulch as you currently have, both in consistency and in color.
  • Create raised beds. If you want to convert to raised bed gardening or add more raised beds, this is the perfect time to build your new boxes, construct arbors or any other building projects for your garden.

If you can start some of these tasks now before that planting season starts, you will have a great head start on this year’s gardening season.