10 Ontario Gardening Tips for Spring

Here in southern Ontario, we are blessed with a climate that gives us the opportunity to enjoy all four seasons. After a long, cold Ontario winter, one of life’s real pleasures is the preparation for another summer’s garden, with all the anticipation that comes with the spring season. Here are ten tips that can help you to create a beautiful garden wherever you live in southern Ontario. When the blooms come, you will be able to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of your yard, with its colour and the scent of its flowers.

Early Spring Maintenance

Take a Walk through your Yard

Make note of any tree branches that need to be removed or trimmed, especially those that may overhang the house. Hire a specialist to maintain larger trees. Cut down and trim the dried up remnants of last summer’s perennial foliage, and put the cuttings into the compost pile. Rake mulch from beds planted with bulbs before any sprouting appears, and refresh the mulch in other planting areas after the soil warms. Check fences, steps, and walkways for any damage caused by freezing and thawing.

Check Garden Tools, Order Plants

It’s always a good idea to check inventory of your garden tools so that everything will be ready to go when things start growing. Make a note if any tools or utensils are missing, and order replacement tools for the new season. Do some planning and choose which new plants you would like for the garden. Order flowers, trees, and shrubs for spring planting.

Service your Lawnmower

Take the mower and leaf blower in for servicing. or if you have the right tools, sharpen the mower blades yourself. Refill your mower with oil, install fresh spark plugs, and lubricate moving parts if necessary. Rake the lawn to remove any winter debris, and look for areas that might need reseeding.

Prune Trees and Shrubs

Remove dead, damaged, and diseased branches from trees and shrubs. Thin and trim summer-blooming shrubs such as roses. Prune cold-damaged wood after plants resume spring growth. Prune spring-blooming shrubs and trees after flowering.

Check the PH factor of the Soil

You can get a simple soil testing kit at many gardening stores, and with it, you can check the PH factor of the soil in your garden. Take samples from several different areas of the yard for the most accurate reading. Correct the soil balance if needed. Add dolomitic lime to raise the PH level, or elemental sulfur to lower the PH level.

Prepare New Flower and Vegetable Beds

Clear the planting area as soon as the soil can be worked, removing weeds and debris. Spread a 4-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure over soil, and cultivate it to a depth of about 10 inches.


Plant  trees, shrubs, and many perennials by early spring. Try to do it all on a cool, cloudy day if possible. Transplant container-grown plants anytime during the growing season except during the hottest days of summer; once planted, be sure to water them thoroughly. Sow any package seeds of flowers like sweet peas and poppies, or vegetables such as lettuce and spinach.

Fertilize your Plants

Apply balanced fertilizer (6-6-6 or 8-8-8), fish emulsion, or other soil supplements as recommended by your PH soil test results, around trees and shrubs when new growth appears. Spread high-acid fertilizer and pine-needle mulch around acid-loving shrubs like azaleas and camellias. Begin fertilizing perennials when active growth resumes.

Start a Compost Pile

Start a compost pile, or use a compost bin, if you don’t have one already. Begin by collecting plant debris and leaves raked up from the garden. Chop these up first to speed up decomposition. Add equal amounts “brown” (carbon-rich) materials like dried leaves and straw and “green” (nitrogen-rich) materials like grass clippings and weeds in even layers with water and a compost bioactivator. Turn regularly throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Continue adding to the pile throughout the season for a rich, homemade compost that your plants will love.


Clean the Bird Bath

Clean the birdbath by scrubbing with weak bleach solution (1/4 cup bleach: 4 litres of warm water). Rinse thoroughly and let the birdbath dry before refilling. It’s always a good idea to change the birdbath water weekly, throughout the warm weather season. Clean birdbaths and feeders occasionally throughout the summer, using your garden hose.

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author: Randy Selzer


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