You are currently viewing 2024 Spring Gardening Checklist (Free Printable)

2024 Spring Gardening Checklist (Free Printable)

Use this spring gardening checklist to get your garden in shape as the days become warmer and longer. While some tasks should wait until after last frost, there are plenty of things to do now.

For the bigger picture, I also have a year-at-a-glance overview of Garden Tasks By Season from spring to winter for cold climate gardeners.

Empress of Dirt in the spring garden.

Printable Spring Garden Checklist

Empress of Dirt Spring Gardening Checklist.

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four-and-twenty hours.” robin birdrobin bird

~Mark Twain

I love lists! And this Spring Gardening Checklist is packed with good ideas. No two gardens are the same, but, by reading through it, you will certainly think of things you want to get done in your growing space—no matter what size or style.

And whatever you choose to do, enjoy it!

Spring is peak phenology season, where the amazing inter-relationships between living things are most evident. And experiencing it makes life that much sweeter.

Those of us in cold climates get to witness the incredible transformation from cold, freezing, and snow to the earth bursting forth with new growth. It’s a joy I look forward to each year.

Have a look at the suggestions and grab your free printable in the Resources section.

Spring Gardening Checklist

1Get Ready

Before we start work in the garden, there are a few things to take care of. Timing will depend on your location and resources, of course.

  • First, get outside and have a look at the garden. Is there any winter damage? What’s growing? Any repairs needed? Take photos and jot down notes.
  • Know your garden zone and last frost date (see links below). That determines when tender plants can cope.
  • Look over your notes from last year and start this year’s. The Empress of Dirt printable garden planner can be used year after year.
  • Start planning. What do you want to grow this year? Any building projects? Do you want to get a jump start by starting seeds indoors? This has a handy indoor seed starting schedule.
  • Organize your seeds | This shows two smart and simple systems.
  • Visit plant nurseries. Browse. Dream. Plot. Scheme. 
  • Stock up on spring seeds, veggie transplants, potting soil.
  • Order bulk delivery of soil, compost and mulchCheck for early bird deals. 
  • Start turning compost pile twice a week if possible.
  • Get a soil test from an accredited lab and find out what your soil truly needs. We compared the accuracy of a home soil test kit versus lab results here.
  • If you’re starting new beds, consider using the cardboard method to speed things up.

Read More

Find Your Frost Dates & Hardiness Zone

Plant Hardiness Zones | United States flagUnited States flag United States | Canadian flagCanadian flag Canada
These are listed on seed packets and plant tags to guide your choices.

Average Frost Dates | Use this calculator at Almanac.com. Enter your city and state or province to find your first and last frost dates and number of frost-free days.

Ecoregion | Learn about the native plant and animal species and environmental conditions specific to your region to better understand why your garden choices matter.

Learn More: Understanding Frosts & Freezing For Gardeners

2Clean Up Garden Beds

Is It Time for Spring Garden “Clean Up”?

The longer you can hold off tidying up the debris from last year’s garden, the better. Wildlife needs food and habitat throughout the seasons.

If you intend to tidy beds, instead of relying on a specific date, observe the natural signs in your garden.

  • Is it near your average last frost date? Or, later (better)?
  • Is it consistently warm enough that insects and amphibians are active?

While it’s commonly recommended to wait until night temperatures average 50°F (10°C) or more, animals do not all conform to one set of rules. Some will awaken before this, others after. This is why holding off—or not doing anything—is better.

  • Do the minimum needed for your aesthetic or functional needs.
  • Try to limit how much you walk in garden beds. There are so many important animals that live in the ground including native bees.
  • If you cut back old growth, leave at least 12-inches of stem for cavity nesters.

And spread the word that dead and decaying organic matter brings new life. Once you see it’s purpose, it becomes a thing of beauty.

These are tips and tasks from my garden:

  • Avoid walking in garden beds when the soil is damp: you don’t want to crush all those tender roots underground or push down any emerging plant snouts and shoots. If you must do it, put down a wood plank to better distribute your weight. Also be mindful of all the creatures living or overwintering in the soil. The less we disturb them, the better.
  • Inspect beds for plants that died over the winter but don’t be fooled by slow-growers. When in doubt, wait! And then wait some more.
  • Clear away any mulch used to cover perennials in winter.
  • Cut away dead leaves and stems covering perennials only when new growth is well underway.
  • Remove weeds at roots. Use a thick barrier to suppress invasive plants (ivy, crabgrass, etc.).
  • Add any stakes, trellis, or other supports that will be needed.
  • Edge beds for a nice, crisp look. This also makes it easier to mow safely without harming plants.
  • Add any (organic, slow-release) fertilizers—if needed.
  • Add compost to enrich the soil.
  • Top with mulch. I currently use 2-inches of finely chopped hardwood chips. Whatever you choose, be sure the rain can get through.

Resources

3Transition Plants

If you have plants indoors awaiting outdoor planting, most can be gradually transitioned near or after your expected last frost date if the weather is behaving.

The key to successful transitioning from indoors to outdoors or vice-versa, is easy does it!

  • Did you stash potted trees in a garage or start bulbs in a container last fall? It’s time to increase light and water.

My favorite season is when the mosquitoes are too cold to bite.

~Anonymous

Once the risk of frost has passed:

  • Harden off (transition) indoor seedlings in preparation for transplanting.
  • Give houseplants their summer holiday on the patio—but avoid sudden changes and harsh light. It varies by species but many tropical plants will enjoy outdoor living once temperatures are consistently over 60F (15C).

Resources

4Trees, Shrubs, Vines, Grasses

  • Remove winter covers including burlap wraps.
  • Inspect for winter damage.
  • Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches: this is much easier to do before leaves fill in.
  • Look up your specific plants to determine best time to prune for plant health, safety, size, shape, and to stimulate new growth.
  • Generally, plants that bloom in late summer or fall are pruned in spring. But you have to check first. The goal is to avoid snipping off buds that will produce future flowers.
  • Note any vines needing better trellis or supports.
  • Trim back dead growth on deciduous grasses, careful not to cut new growth.
  • Cut back late summer and fall raspberries.

Resources

5Sow, Divide, Plant, and Propagate

This has specific tips to know when it’s safe to plant and sow in the spring garden before last frost.

  • Plant summer flowering bulbs in containers or in the ground as the soil warms.
  • Sow cool weather veggies for early crops when temperatures are suitable.
  • Use frost covers, polytunnels, cold frames, or cloches to protect young annuals.
  • Get geraniums and bulbs out of storage for spring planting.
  • Reseed patchy areas of lawn or use transplants. Or start converting to wildflower ground cover.
  • Take softwood cuttings and grow more of your favorite plants.
  • Start seeds indoors. Most seeds that benefit from an indoor start should be sown 4 to 6 weeks before last frost but there are plenty of other options as well.
  • Start dahlias indoors in containers 4 to 6 weeks before last frost.

“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose, I would always greet it in a garden.”

~Ruth Stout

New to Veggie Growing?
See How to Start Your First Vegetable Garden Now

Resources

6Tools & Equipment

Once the risk of frost is over (we hope), it’s time to get set up for the season ahead.

  • Set up garden hoses and rain barrels.
  • Check that rain gutters are clear of debris.
  • Clean and sharpen garden tools.
  • Get wheelbarrow tire inflated.
  • Take lawn mower blades in to be sharpened and avoid the rush.
  • Remove pond heaters.
  • Set up fountains, pond pumps, and put water plants in summer locations.
  • Clean out shed and storage areas.

Resources

7Wild Things

Bird nest with blue eggs.Bird nest with blue eggs.

Resources

8Patio & Decor

  • Set up patio furniture and put out garden art and décor from winter storage. If you didn’t wash it in fall, now is a good time. I use a pressure washer.

Resources

9Build

Any big plans for the garden this year? Me? I love to build with wood.

Ideas include:

  • Greenhouse | Any size!
  • Raised beds or tall planting boxes
  • Fence or privacy walls
  • Ponds or water features
  • Shed or tool storage cupboard
  • Potting table

Resources

Resources

Empress of Dirt

Spring Gardening Checklist

Empress of Dirt Spring Gardening Checklist.Empress of Dirt Spring Gardening Checklist.

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Garden Planner

Empress of Dirt Printable Garden Planner cover. Empress of Dirt Printable Garden Planner cover.

Empress of Dirt
Printable Garden Planner & Notes

An assortment of basic garden checklists, undated calendars, and note pages for planning and tracking your gardening season.

About The Planner | Visit Ebook Shop

This is a digital file (PDF format) you save to your device to print as much as you like for your own personal use. It is not a physical product.

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Available for Canada & United States only.

Ebook

Seed Starting For Beginners ebook cover. Seed Starting For Beginners ebook cover.

Seed Starting for Beginners
Sow Inside Grow Outside

by Melissa J. Will

NEW EDITION | Everything you need to get started with indoor seed starting for indoor and outdoor plants. Grow what you want—any time of year!

About This Ebook | Visit Ebook Shop

This ebook is a digital file (PDF format) you save to your device. It is not a physical product.

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Available for Canada & United States only.

So, what did I forget? I know there’s always more….

Happy spring!

~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛

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