Here is some advice to help you get your garden growing:

Prepare your yard:

Clear the yard of any debris, downed limbs, etc. Look for areas that may need to be reseeded. When you mow, don’t cut the grass too short the first few times.

Prune trees and shrubs:

Cut dead or diseased branches from trees and shrubs. Trim summer-blooming shrubs such as butterfly bushes, hydrangea, and roses. Prune early blooming shrubs after they bloom. Deadhead spent flowers from bulbs, but leave the rest of the plant.

Test your soil:

You can find a home soil-test kit at most home improvement stores. Follow recommendations according to your results to prep your soil. Adding organic compost can provide nutrients for plants.

Prepare a space:

Clear the area you will be planting of weeds and debris. Cultivate to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. Create a map of your yard and design a layout of flower beds and/or a vegetable garden on paper first. Remember to plan the color combinations and plant heights so they complement each other well.

Start planting:

Plant bare-root trees, shrubs, and perennials by early spring. You can transplant container plants anytime in the season except for the middle of summer. In North Carolina, the last spring frost typically comes in early April, although in higher elevations wait later in the month.

Fertilize:

Apply balanced fertilizer according to your soil test results around shrubs and mulch beds when new growth starts to appear. Soil preparation is the most important thing you can do for your new plants.

Don’t forget the water:

New plants need water. Be sure to check the appropriate amount of watering needed for each type of plant. Over watering is worse than under watering as it can cause roots to rot.

Bring on the sun:

Check the instructions for each of your plants to determine their tolerance to sunlight. The location of your plants can be critical to ensure plants thrive.

Annuals & Perennials:

Growing annuals is fairly easy. The time to start seeds generally is about six weeks before the last frost. Seed packages will list the number of weeks needed to germinate when starting indoors. Sow seeds following the directions on the packet. Perennials are a great choice for those who don’t have a lot of time to replant every year. With proper care, they will return to your garden year after year. Allow plenty of growing room between plants. Planting large quantities of a few varieties close together creates a full effect. This will also help to reduce maintenance time. When grouping different varieties of plants together, remember to use plants with similar watering and sunlight needs.

Bulb Care:

There are two varieties of bulbs: hardy and tender, and each requires different care. Tender bulbs should be planted in spring for summer blooming. They require little effort and cost. Some popular summer-blooming bulbs are: dahlias, elephant ears, cannas, gladiolus, begonias, and caladium. Hardy bulbs are generally planted in fall and bloom in spring after the last frost date has passed. Some examples include: tulips, calla lilies, daffodils, crocus, hyacinth and Easter lilies. If you plant a combination of hardy and tender bulbs you will have blooms over the spring and summer seasons.