Yes, spring is a special time for everyone—but for the observant gardener, this time of year is magic. There’s nothing quite like seeing new growth appear on trees, witnessing the beautiful process of bud to bloom, and finally getting your hands in the soil to plant everything you’ve been dreaming about all winter. This spring we’re focusing on relishing the entire process: from inspiration to experimentation to enjoyment.

On this page:Get Inspired | Enjoy Your Garden | Perform Maintenance | Experiment With Color | Plan For Summer | Think Vertically | Add A Garden Gate | Just Add Water | Appease The Belly | Succession Plant | Personal Touch | Houseplants

GET INSPIRED

The best ideas often come from hearing about or seeing what other gardeners are doing. For visual inspiration, visit a nearby public garden or attend a garden tour. The Garden Conservancy hosts Open Days, providing opportunities for people to visit beautiful private gardens all around the country. To learn from other gardeners, we recommend listening to the podcast A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach. Each week, Roach entertains and inspires the gardening community with compelling interviews featuring captivating guests from the horticulture world.

Visitors can wander the grounds of Camp Rosemary, a private garden in Lake Forest, IL, in July, thanks to the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program. Camp Rosemary is one of many public gardens in the country open for tours through the Garden Conservancy. Photo: Marion Brenner

CREATE A SPOT TO ENJOY YOUR GARDEN

Lots of hard work goes into maintaining a garden, so be sure to take some time to appreciate the fruits of your labor. Creating a designated spot to soak up the beauty that surrounds you can be as involved as building a wall to create a small space that’s separated from the rest of your garden, or as simple as placing a few comfortable chairs in front of a water feature or fire pit. Whichever type of retreat you decide to create, make sure it’s comfy. For maximum enjoyment, we recommend making it a smartphone-free zone! See more inspiring backyard retreats.

Four blue Adirondack chairs around a fire pit provide a spot to relax and enjoy the rustic setting of native oak woodlands at this property near San Francisco, designed by Arterra Landscape Architects. Photo: Michele Lee Wilson

PERFORM MAINTENANCE

It’s no secret that being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine is good for mental health, and working in the garden is good for physical health (in our opinion, it’s the most enjoyable form of exercise!). This all works out well, because it’s time to get your hands dirty in the garden! You didn’t think spring was all about inspiration and relaxing in the garden, did you? It’s time to get out there and take care of the plants currently in your garden and prepare for the upcoming season by pruning, dividing perennials, fertilizing, and prepping garden beds.

Photo by: Weeks Roses

EXPERIMENT WITH THE COLOR OF THE YEAR

Pantone’s color of the year for 2019 is Living Coral, and we couldn’t be more excited! Pantone aptly describes it as “vibrant yet mellow.” It pairs beautifully with so many other colors, making its opportunities in your garden seemingly endless. We adore Double Take Peach™ quince (Zones 5-9) because it barely needs any maintenance. We’re also fans of the Superbena Royale® Peachy Keen (Zones 8-11), a verbena hybrid, for its vigorous blooms. And Oso Easy Hot Paprika® (Zones 3-9) is a lovely landscape rose that flowers from early summer through frost. See a list of several plants to choose from to add a little (or a lot) of this vibrant color to your garden.

This coral-blooming Double Take Peach quince is a beauty and very tolerant of hot and dry conditions. Photo: Courtesy Proven Winners

PLAN FOR SUMMER COLOR

Generally, seeds of most annuals should be started indoors about 6 weeks before your last frost date. (Find your location’s estimated last frost date.) If you missed the window of time for starting seeds indoors, fear not! There are plenty of hardy annuals such as zinnias, sunflowers, and marigolds that can or should be planted directly in the ground after any possibility of frost has passed. Learn more about annuals.

‘Candy Mountain’ sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is a multibranching, bicolor beauty that can reach as tall as 10 feet. It makes a great cut flower. Photo: Rob Cardillo

THINK VERTICALLY

When it comes to the garden, designer Susan Morrison reminds us to “make the most of the entire space,” in her book, Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces, co-authored with Rebecca Sweet. “That includes walls, transitions, and what’s overhead. Going vertical adds a unique touch to gardens of any size.” Gardeners are often daunted by the thought of vines because they have a reputation for being messy and growing out of control, but with proper care and attention, flowering vines can be a beautiful addition to your garden without causing grief. See more ideas of how you can make the most of your space by “growing up.”

Cup-and-saucer vine (Cobaea scandens) can be used as a perennial in Zones 9-11, and even as an annual in other regions. It fills in quickly, easily forming a screen in just one season. Its stunning purple flowers are 3- to 4-inches wide. Photo: Marianne Majerus

ADD A GARDEN GATE (or give the one you have a makeover!)

A garden gate makes such a wonderful addition to any outdoor space, adding a decorative element of intrigue. As Gary Ratway of Digging Dog Nursery says, “In the garden, gates signify a change, a point of anticipation, expectation, and surprise.” Take a walk through your yard to make note of any spots where you can possibly add a garden gate. You can use a garden gate to create a partition between two areas of your garden (e.g., between your vegetable garden and the rest of your yard). Or maybe there’s a small corner of your garden dedicated to relaxation—a garden gate would be a lovely way to create a moment of pause before entering that space. If you already have a garden gate that you’d like to modify, think about ways to improve its aesthetic. For example, a new paint job, a material refresh, or even just fixing a fickle hinge can work wonders in adding to the enjoyment of your garden. Need more inspiration? Check out these ideas for garden gates.

Designer Gary Ratway borrowed the design of this arched double gate from the shape of the windows and the trim color of this landscape’s home in coastal California. The gate serves as the transition from the side yard to the backyard and keeps deer out. The gate was hand-built by artisan Eric Lassotovitch with black acacia wood. Photo: Saxon Holt

JUST ADD WATER

Listening to the soothing sounds of water is as mesmerizing to the ears as watching fire is mesmerizing to the eyes. Adding a fountain or water feature to your garden is a wonderful way to create a soothing vibe. If you don’t have the means to add a built-in water feature, don’t fret. There are hundreds of options available online, but you can check out our favorites and narrow your search.

This gorgeous built-in water feature, set against a white wall with herringbone pattern, was designed by Scott Shrader for a home in Santa Monica, CA. A staghorn fern takes the fountain’s aesthetic appeal to the next level. Photo: Mark Adams

APPEASE THE BELLY

When it comes to deciding what to grow, we can’t think of a way to say it better than Rebecca Sams of Mosaic Gardens: “I recommend going to your local farmer’s market. Look at the size and quality of the produce to get an idea of what grows well in your area. You can even talk to the farmers about what they have success with-don’t do it when there’s a big crowd though, wait for a quiet moment! If there are two types of broccoli, ask what the difference is. Do they notice a big difference in growing them? If there’s something delicious and beautiful that you’re interested in planting, ask how difficult it is to grow. These people are gardening experts, and they have local knowledge.”

Once you’ve decided what to grow, it’s time to get growing with these tips for a successful vegetable garden.

Try something different when it comes to raised beds, like these circular beds made of twigs woven together. Handmade teepees add vertical support and complete the look. Photo by: Tim Gainey/Gap Photos Ltd.

SUCCESSION PLANT YOUR SALAD FIXINGS

Yes, we know lettuce and other greens are also garden edibles, so technically this information belongs in the previous section, but we can’t emphasize this point enough: Succession plant your salad ingredients (lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, beets, etc)! The taste of your homegrown salad and your cost savings are sure to make you smile. Learn more about vegetable crops and succession planting from Johnny’s Seeds.

Spinach is the most cold tolerant of salad greens and can be sown every seven days, giving you plenty of spinach all spring long.

ADD A PERSONAL TOUCH

“I built it myself!” is arguably one of the most gratifying phrases to utter. There’s nothing quite like receiving a compliment from a friend or family member about something you’ve created yourself. Why not set aside a weekend this spring to work on that outdoor DIY project you’ve had on your to-do list? In case you’re looking for a new project to conquer, we’ve got a few DIY projects to get you started.

Originating in Japan, the kokedama method of planting requires no container—roots are packed in a mud and clay mixture, wrapped in moss, then bound in twine. They are surprisingly simple to make and easy to maintain. Photo: Rob Cardillo

DON’T FORGET THE HOUSEPLANTS

The inside of your house needs some love, too! Why not celebrate spring with a new houseplant to bring some green indoors? There’s a houseplant for every space, even if you only have space in a corner that doesn’t get much light. Check out our list of the 21 best indoor houseplants.

If you don’t have many places to put houseplants, look up! Variegated hoya (Hoya carnosa‘Variegata’) produces clusters of waxy, fragrant flowers and is easy to care for. Photo: Caitlin Atkinson

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Spring Tips and Chores
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