Tulips add colour to a Scarborough garden.

Get your garden ready for spring

Tips from a horticultural expert

Now that the sun is starting to warm up the ground, it’s the perfect time to get out and get that garden ready for the new season.

To get prepped for the gardening season, Alan Milliken, president of the Scarborough Garden & Horticultural Society, has some tips to get you started.

Milliken says it’s important to look at photos from last year’s garden to plan and make any changes before actually getting in the dirt.

“Now is also the time to start your tomato seeds and annuals indoors,” he said.

Once the plan has been mapped out and you’ve started some of the plants indoors, you need to make sure you have all the required tools and they’re working.

“Sharp tools always make gardening work easier,” Milliken said. You need to sharpen and oil secateurs (pruning shears), clean and sharpen hoes, spades and trowels, and ensure the lawn mower is clean and sharpened.

After the tools are in working order, it’s important to take these steps;

• Start with raking the lawn, top dress with compost or triple mix and overseed any bare patches.

• Clear any winter debris off your perennial beds, but be careful not to damage any newly emerging shoots.

• Lift and replant any frost heaved perennial clumps, top dress and mulch the beds, and then divide emerging perennials as soon as the soil is dry enough to step on.

• Remove winter protection from roses and prune out any winter kill.

• Lightly rake the soil on top of your vegetable bed, and then add three to four inches of a material such as compost, leaf mold, manure or a mixture of all. “Deep digging is now taboo as it has been found to disturb the organic and microscopic structure of the bed,” Milliken said.

• “Seeds for cool weather crops such as lettuce, peas and spinach should be planted around mid-April,” Milliken said.

• Now is also a good time to move any shrubs to new locations before new growth begins.

• It’s important to check the weather forecast to find out when the last frost warnings are, which is now usually around May 7. Once the last frost has ended you can plant or seed your annuals and vegetables, but you should wait until the soil has warmed up before planting tomatoes.

• Finally you can wash outdoor containers, fill them with fresh soil and create balcony or patio gardens. Pansies are now available in stores and would be perfect to add to containers to provide some quick colour to your curb appeal.

Now, you can take these tips and get outside. Make that garden a wonderful start to the warm spring season.