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Quick Garden Fixes on a Budget

There are a few small things you can do in early spring that will have a big impact over the course of the season. Take the following steps to save time and money and make your garden look better than ever.

Replace the potting soil in your containers to help plants grow stronger

This inexpensive change makes plants much more resistant to weeds and pests so you won't spend time and money fending off these invaders later in the season. Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix is enriched with plant food for optimal growth. This enhanced mix retains more moisture than regular potting mix and releases it gradually to meet the plant's watering needs. If you have too many containers to start from scratch, mix old soil and new potting soil in equal parts. And don't throw away excess soil from last year's pots - use it to top up your garden beds.

Start from seed

Taking the time to start both your flower and vegetable gardens indoors from seed will help you create a garden for a fraction of what you'd spend on seedlings and potted plants. Plant seeds in a potting tray, egg cartons or even recycled plastic sandwich bags filled with soil. Be sure to use potting soil, not garden soil, which is dense and can harbour parasites.

Research hardy, disease-resistant plants that are well-suited to the climate you're in

Check your last frost date before you start gardening to avoid losing young plants to dips in temperature. Read plant tags in-store to select varieties that are bred to be more disease-resistant.

Cut back now to get more later

Proper spring pruning and pinching back buds will encourage plants to produce more shoots and blossoms. Summer-flowering shrubs and trees can be cut back in early spring, but hold off pruning spring bloomers, such as azaleas and lilacs, until after they've finished flowering. Prune roses in early spring by cutting just above outward facing buds, and be sure to select the right pruner for the job. If you're cutting into branches with thick bark, try scoring it first to avoid ragged cuts that leave the remaining branch stripped of bark and exposed to infestation.

Add plenty of mulch

Mulch is one of the most inexpensive and beneficial additions to your garden bed. A two- to three-inch layer of mulch spread over the soil in spring not only prevents erosion and compaction from heavy rain, it also staves off weeds and helps soil retain moisture, reducing the need for frequent watering.

Mulch can also help maintain an even soil temperature throughout the growing season (bear in mind this insulating effect means that mulched gardens warm up more slowly in spring, so wait until after your last thaw to apply). Mulch is measured in cubic feet, so if you have an area that's 10 by 10 feet and you wish to apply three inches of mulch, you would need 25 cubic feet (10 x 10 x .25 = 25 cubic feet).

Additional tips

A little planning and maintenance makes a big difference to your garden and your budget.

  • Make a list of the spring garden projects you'd like to tackle over the season and create a list of the tools and materials you'll need. This gives you plenty of time to shop for the best choices and prices.
  • Think big picture. Map out all the places you plan to add spring annuals throughout the yard and in containers. Then buy them all at once in economical multi-packs.
  • Gather all your tools now and take stock. Clean, sharp tools work better and last longer. Rinse dirt from all surfaces and dry them with a cotton rag to prevent rust. A little paint thinner can remove pitch, gums and sap. Apply motor or vegetable oil to steel surfaces to prevent them from oxidizing. To remove rust, scrub tools with a wire brush or fine grit sandpaper.

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