9 spring gardening tips to avoid doing too much too soon

Nothing is more exciting for a gardener than the approach of spring, and these 9 spring gardening tips will get you going.

Flower-filled dreams, plans and ideas are bursting out, ready to get started. Visions of perfect tomatoes and sweet smelling perennials come pushing forward each time we go to the store and see the seed racks. Spring can bring such joy and expectation.

Then there is reality. Many stores start tempting us with colourful plants and promises of early crops while snow squall warnings are still in the forecast. Aching for zone 7 selections whilst living in Ottawa’s zone 4 world is part of the reason for the fast start to the season.


Here are 9 easy spring gardening tips to avoid the trap of doing too much too soon.

  1. Don’t walk around the lawn and garden if you are still leaving wet footprints. Compacting the soil will make it difficult to work the garden later in the season.
  2. Leave dandelions in bloom. They are one of the first flowers of the season and bees need the food. Cut them off as they start to die down, before the seed heads come.
  3. Don’t buy a plant and put it straight in the ground. These plants were started in a nice warm greenhouse so, while they are still in their pots, put them in partial shade (so they don’t get sunburned) and back inside overnight. This hardening off period should last for several days.
  4. Plant your vegetable garden close to the May 24th weekend. That is a general suggestion. Several vegetables, especially lettuce, can be started as soon as the soil can be worked. A few others, such as peppers, appreciate an extra week of warmth before they go out.
    9 spring gardening tips
    Do you cut cut back tulip stems too soon?
  5. When your bulbs are finished, try not to cut back the stems, let them die down. Usually the bulbs are planted around perennials that are growing up while the bulb stems are fading.
  6. Relax the raking! When young grasses from the fall season have taken root, then you can rake. Early spring is a great time to seed your lawn. A thick lawn means no grubs.
  7. You can shape your lilac and forsythia bushes right after they bloom and still get blooms the following year. Don’t wait on that one.
  8. Prune your roses in early spring. Generally, no more than one-third should come off, along with all dead branches. Roses like a feeding of good soil and compost.
  9. And, finally, don’t forget about yourself.

Starting a fresh new season is very inspirational and spending a day in the sun with birds singing and sweet breezes blowing is wonderful. But if you wake up the next day with every joint screaming at you, then all the wonder goes out of it.

Along with these spring gardening tips, you need to prepare yourself for your garden season. Gentle stretching exercises and slow movements are important. Lift with your knees. If it’s too heavy, get some help! Wear a hat and sunscreen. Take care of yourself so the joy of the spring season will follow you through to summer.


About the Author

Judith Cox

Judith Cox

Judith Cox is a lifelong gardener and a member of Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton. She recently started her own garden consulting business. You can find her on Facebook or at



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