Spring Home & Garden

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SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 2022 |


&GARDEN Spring home improvement

SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 2022





Bringing indoor living outdoors MARY PIEPER


For the Globe Gazette

ore and more North Iowans are choosing to create outdoor dining and entertaining areas in their yards, perhaps as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. People are staying home and entertaining more, so they are “trying to make it like a mini-vacation at home around a bonfire pit or looking out at the lake in a comfortable seating arrangement,” said Mitch Knudsvig, senior selling store manager at Slumberland in Mason City. Last year was Slumberland’s biggest year ever for outdoor patio furniture, so the company is expanding what it is offering in that area, according to Knudsvig. In addition to single chairs, the Mason City store now offers four or five different sectionals, a glider love seat, and more, he said. The store is also bringing in indoor/ outdoor pillows. After the pandemic began two years ago, “Everyone wanted to revitalize their backyards,” said Kate Rohde, inside sales representative at Midland Concrete in Clear Lake. Some commons ways to do that are pergolas, outdoor fire pits or outdoor kitchens, according to Rohde. When creating a patio or sprucing up an existing one, customers are buying pavers, she said, noting many different patterns and colors are available. “You can do more of a cobblestone-like look,” Rohde said. Midland Concrete is selling a lot of Rosetta outcropping that looks like pieces of natural quarry stone but is actually made of precast concrete. “They create a very cool design element,” Rohde said.


An outdoor fireplace from Midland Concrete. Rosetta is popular in Clear Lake because it can be used in sea walls, according to Rhode. It also can be used in walkways. When it comes to outdoor

cooking, Blackstone is a hot brand right now, according to Sawyer Mishak, manager at Brothers Ace Hardware in Mason City, Clear Lake, Garner, and several other

The Blackstone outdoor griddles are the newest twist in the popularity of cast-iron cookware, according to Mishak. “We didn’t have them two years ago,” he said. Due to the demand for the product and the general supply chain issues happening now, the outdoor griddles “are really hard to come by,” Mishak said, noting as soon as one of his stores gets one in stock, “it’s pretty much gone.” Customers like the Blackstone griddles because “you can cook basically anything on it,” Mishak said. This includes steak, burgers, pancakes and eggs. The regular griddle is a gigantic cast iron plate, but Blackstone also carries smaller ones that people can easily take with them when they travel in an RV, Mishak said. During the COVID-19 panSHUTTERSTOCK demic, there’s been a surge in people wanting to build sunrooms and decks, according to Paul Despenas, vice president of marketing for Midwest Construction, which has locations in Mason City and Grimes. He said this isn’t the first time in recent memory when this is happened, noting a new term called “nesting” became common A pergola from Midland Concrete in after 9/11. Clear Lake. “People were afraid to go out,” Despenas said, “They were afraid to go to the movies, they were afraid to go to the mall, they were afraid to go to dinner, so everyone started building mancaves, fixing up the garage, and building decks and sunrooms.” Midwest Construction can help homeowners do things like screen SHUTTERSTOCK in their porch or put a roof over their deck and then screen it in stores outside North Iowa. “It’s a gigantic, blacktop grid- to create a sunroom they can use dle” like you would see at a diner, Please see OUTDOORS, Page C2 he said.


to planting flowers and shrubs MARY PIEPER

For the Globe Gazette

Planting flowers and shrubs for the first time is like being a rookie at sports, according to Joyce Crowley, owner of St. Ansgar Greenhouse and Floral. “You aren’t going to be good at first,” she said. “It takes a little while. You have to ask some questions.”



Pictured are some pansies growing Joyce Crowley, owner of St. Ansgar Greenhouse and Floral, stands in the greenhouse with some spring flowers in in containers at St. Ansgar containers. Greenhouse and Floral.

The best people to ask are those who work at garden centers, as well as older neighbors and relatives who have a green thumb, according to Crowley. “It’s kind of a nice way to bond with your grandparents,” she said. “That’s what I tell younger customers.” One thing that makes it easier for first-time gardeners is that the tags on plants started in containers in commercial greenhouses indicate not only the name of the plant, but also whether they are supposed to grow in sun and shade and how wide they will get so you know how far apart to plant them, according to Crowley. She said some of the best flowers for beginners are annuals like marigolds and geraniums, but Please see GUIDE, Page C2

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Soil 101

This soil is too dense and heavy and, if you pull it from an existing garden, it may also contain pests that will harm your houseplants. Instead, opt for potting soil from your local nursery or garden center.


Successful houseplants start with the roots and with the type of soil you nestle those roots in. There are lots of different kinds of soil out there, and even more amending mediums you can add. Many commercial mixes add fertilizers and other amendments straight into the soil, which is important when it comes time to feed your plants. Too much fertilizer can be deadly. Here’s a guide to understanding what’s in your potting soil.

Mixing Your Own

Peat Moss or Coir

This lightweight filler acts like a sponge, sucking up water and releasing it to your plants’ roots when they need it most. Avoid

mixes with super-absorbent polymers if you can. These are made with petroleum products that you may not want in your home.

Pumice and Perlite

Volcanic rocks like these increase drainage and soil aeration. Your cactus soil is probably full of it. Vermiculite is another popular ad-

You may choose to mix your own soils for your plants. That’s perfectly fine and you can find most of the ingredients for a good potting soil at your local nursery or garden center. It’s important to use a large container that’s been cleaned well to eliminate any spores for fungi and molds and to mix your soil well after each amendment additive and before each use. If you add fertilizer into your mix, read the instructions for reapplications carefully to make sure you don’t overfertilize your ditive that does something houseplants. Store your ready-mixed potting soil similar. in a cool, dry place away Garden Soil from direct sunlight. Keep Do not use garden soil it in an airtight container to in your container gardens. keep out pests.

planted earlier, shouldn’t be planted until after Mother’s Day, she said. As far as shrubs, hydrangeas and spirea are good choices for rookie gardeners, according to Crowley. Al Gochanour, owner of Larson’s Mercantile in Clear Lake, said a lot of people worry that they aren’t watering their plants enough, but they are just as likely to kill them by overwatering. Gochanour recommends

touching the soil a plant is in each day. “If it (the soil) is damp, you pass. If it is dry, you water,” he said. It’s also important not to overfertilize, according to Gochanour. “Plants are so sensitive early that you can kill them from fertilizer as well,” he said. Gochanour recommends following the directions on the fertilizer package and

not putting in more than the amount prescribed. Time-release fertilizer products are a godsend for beginning gardeners,

according to Gochanour. These products, which can be used for flowering plants, yards, and even vegetables, only have to be applied once

Compost and Manure These ingredients contain vital plant nutrients and microorganisms. They also help the soil retain water. If you’re looking for well-draining soil for cacti and succulents, avoid too much of this. But make sure you have it in abundance for your tropicals.

Guide From C1

some kinds of perennials are also easy to grow. Petunias are another good option for beginners, but they require a bit more maintenance because the blossoms need to be taken off once they are done blooming, according to Crowley. Most annuals, except for pansies which can be




a little extra space to their doors from the indoors,” he home and “enjoy the out- said.

per season. “It’s spectacular,” he said. “You don’t even have to think about it … (you can) put it in and forget about it.”

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From C1

for part of the year, according to Despenas. However, “94 percent of the rooms we installed last year were all-season,” he said. Midwest Construction has been in the all-season sunroom business since the mid-1980s. Despenas said these rooms remain at a comfortable temperature inside whether it is 90 degrees or 20 below outside. Some people who have screened-in porches or a covered patio have been choosing to upgrade to an all-seasons sunroom, according to Despenas. “People have stepped it up a little bit so they can spend more time in there,” he said. Homeowners who live in the country and had Midwest Construction built sunrooms for 10 years ago will stop by the company’s booth at homes shows, saying how much they enjoy sitting in the room and watching the wildlife, according to Despenas. But people who live in town, including those who downsized from a larger house after they retired and don’t want a big yard to take care of, also like having a sunroom so they can add

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The 2022 Houzz Kitchen Trends Survey shows that white kitchen cabinets and stainless steel appliances are still the No. 1 choice for homeowners. There are some shifts, however, the survey says.

Goodbye, open floor plan

The pandemic plagued open floor plans. Work-from-home and remote schooling in the wide open spaces have made families wish for more privacy. Only 38% of surveyed homeowners say they’re going to open up their kitchen in 2022, compared to 46% in 2020.

About a quarter of renovating homeowners say that their new kitchens will be bigger than their old ones, up to 50% larger. Most new kitchens are more than 200 square feet, the survey shows.

Bigger is better

When it comes to kitchen islands. Two out of five kitchen islands are more than seven feet long and are usually based on extra kitchen storage. The vast majority — 78% of homeowners — say they’re adding cabinets with closed doors. Those cabinets are also likely to be shaker-style cabinets. More than half of home remodelers are opting for this

High-tech appliances

More than a third of homeowners are eyeing fancy kitchen appliances with wireless and smartphone controls. Look for ovens with smartphone capabilities (turn on the meatloaf from the couch) or use your fridge app to see if you need more eggs from the store.

transitional style over flat-panel or other types of cabinets. Those cabinets may also be specialty organizing cabinets, such as those designed to hold cookie trays (51% of homeowners plan to add those) and drawers with pullout waste or recycling bins.

Vinyl flooring

Hardwood is still the top choice for kitchen flooring, but vinyl is gaining ground, especially over ceramic or porcelain tile. Vinyl is affordable and water-resistant. It also feels softer underfoot, making it attractive to comfort-minded homeowners.

Farmhouse style falling out of favor Transitional style is big in more than just cabinets. It’s still the No. 1 choice for kitchens in 2022 while farmhouse style has declined to the choice of just one in 10 kitchen remodelers. After transitional style, contemporary and modern styles are the most sought after.

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Low-cost ways to revamp living areas METRO CREATIVE GRAPHICS


ome improvement projects require substantial financial investment. But just because a homeowner wants to bring a fresh look indoors doesn’t mean he or she has to break the bank along the way. Living rooms are some of the most frequently used spaces in a home, and they can use an update from time to time to stay on trend or to make the area more functional for a changing family dynamic. Here are some budget-friendly ideas for breathing new life into living room designs.

Plus, many are sold at home improvement retailers and even at warehouse clubs or online for reasonable prices. Laminate flooring also may be a potential DIY job for a skilled homeowner, saving even more money.

Introduce a fireplace

Fireplaces were once hot commodities, but that popularity waned in the 1970s and 1980s. Homeowners with chimneys may discover a fireplace was boarded over and the bare bones still exist that can be renovated to bring back character. There also are ventless freestanding units that are Establish the budget quite affordable that can mimic the look Homeowners should figure out how of a built-in fireplace. many dollars they can designate to a living room makeover before purchasing Reupholster instead supplies or hiring out the work. Figure out of replace furniture the scope of the remodel, visit stores or suppliers to price out materials, get estiThere’s no need to throw away quality mates from contractors, and then plan for furniture if the fabric is the only thing imsome unforeseen circumstances along the peding design. New upholstery or even a way to determine if this type of renovation slipcover can update designs. is affordable. If not, scale things back until the project more closely aligns with your Conquer clutter budget. Rather than adding something to the living room, remove clutter to give the Change the paint color room a more airy feel. This can instantly Lighter and brighter colors are on trend. change the look of the room. Use cord A can or two of paint can do wonders for covers to tame plugs for electronics and updating a space without a large financial remove unnecessary furniture from the commitment. Pair that new paint color room. with new window coverings and complementary throw pillows to pull the theme Improve lighting together with minimal expense. Another easy and often inexpensive fix is to change lighting fixtures, including Update the flooring using brighter, more energy efficient LED Tired, outdated carpeting or other bulbs, and to assess lighting needs to elimflooring can use an overhaul. While solid inate dark corners of rooms that can make hardwood flooring may be preferable, the space seem drab. there are many types of laminate floorLiving room spaces in need of an update ing that mimic the looks of popular wood often can benefit from improvements that colors and styles for a fraction of the cost. go easy on the wallet.


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Calming colors


athrooms are a retreat in your home, a spalike environment for you to renew and refresh yourself. Here are some top design trends to make sure your new bathroom is chic from Day One — and well into the future.

Matte black

Svelte, clean matte black fixtures will be big in 2022, designer Joshua Smith told Good Housekeeping. Say goodbye to antique brass and brushed nickel and hello to this modern metal.


Look for color palettes that soothe, says Georgia Zikas, with minimal clutter to tighten up an already small space. “People will keep them lean and simple to provide a place of respite,” she told Good Housekeeping. The spa-like feeling is enhanced by organic elements, such as more plants and natural elements, Lauren Lerner says.



Lasting elegance

Classic white marble is always on trend, and that’s no different in the modern bathroom. Smith says this stone is “refined, classic and sophisticated,” and it also works well with biophilic design elements that add to the spa vibe.

for 2022


En suites

More people at home for longer (thanks, COVID-19) means that more people are looking for their bathroom to take them away from their daily worries. That means a primary suite that can stand alone and isn’t just an afterthought to the rest of the bedroom. “You’ll increasingly see people relating to the bathroom as a kind of sanctuary,” Lee Reitelman, co-founder of PlantPaper told Architectural Digest. “Thanks in part to COVID, the home for many of us is no longer the refuge it once was. We work from home and we work in almost every room, at every time of day. The bathroom provides — or can provide — a place of solitude, a little hideaway from the rest of reality.”


Repurposing is popular not only for its green points, but because using a vintage piece of furniture in the bathroom can also add conversation piece in an unexpected place. Think sideboards or dressers in the place of the traditional double vanity. You can add the same level of texture by using vintage fixtures or modern fixtures that mimic the fixtures of the past. Art deco, first popular in the 1920s and 30s, is having another moment a century later, Architectural Digest says. Look for clean lines and lots of color options in the upcoming year.



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ome design trends come and go. The fleeting nature of such trends can make it hard for homeowners to commit to a particular style, especially if they want their home decor to stay as current as possible. Paint provides one way to stay current and refresh a home’s interior without investing in new furniture and home accessories. Paint trends change, but these colors are already making the rounds in 2022.

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Very Peri

Very Peri is the Pantone® 2022 Color of the Year. A brand new shade of blue, Very Peri was designed to rekindle some of the qualities that the color blue represents while simultaneously complementing a modern perspective. The home design pros at HGTV recommend pairing Very Peri with neutrals like taupes and creams or deeper shades like navy or brown.

Evergreen Fog

The paint experts at Sherwin-Williams note that this shade of green is symbolic of nature and a color associated with revitalization and growth. Those characteristics make it great for homeowners who are looking to create a new beginning with their home interiors, particularly in relaxing spaces like living rooms and bedrooms.

Gilded Linen

Gilded Linen from Valspar® is ideal for homeowners who want a color to organize and connect spaces throughout their homes. Gilded Linen is a minimalist white that mixes well with natural elements like wood and greenery. The soft tone of Gilded Linen makes it suitable in a variety of rooms, which is one reason why it’s so popular in homes with open floor plans.

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our lawn needs water and other nutrients to keep it looking lush. Unfortunately, when soil becomes compacted, water and air cannot reach the lower layers of the soil. In that situation, any nutrient solution or water you apply to the grass simply spreads out on top, never reaching the roots. Aeration is a simple solution to this problem that can make a big difference in the appearance of your lawn.

What is lawn aeration? Aeration is the simple process of punching multiple small holes in the ground, so more nutrients sink in. By opening up the soil to more air, water and nutrients, you encourage the roots of your grass to grow deeper. In turn, the roots access precious underground nutrients and water they might not otherwise have received.

How to tell if your lawn needs aeration

labor and are, therefore, best for smaller yards. On the plus side, they cost little and don’t require much storage space. To make the work even easier, some manual aerators come in shoe form. One of our favorites is a pair of lawn aerator shoes by Abco Tech. Each sandal has 13 spikes that penetrate the ground with every step you take, delivering fresh air and nutrients to the soil and grass. The sandals fit over regular shoes, and each has three adjustable buckle straps to ensure a good fit. If you prefer a more hands-on approach, consider a handheld lawn aerator. These tools look like pitchforks. (In fact, if you have a small lawn and prefer not to purchase an aerator, you can use a pitchfork to aerate your lawn.) We recommend the Yard Butler Lawn Spike Aerator, an inexpensive and compact tool that comes with a lifetime warranty.

Attachable aerators

An attachable aerator, also called a “pull-behind” aerator, is a wheeled apparatus that can be affixed to a riding lawn mower or regular lawn mower. If you’re looking for a powerhouse pull-behind aerator, we suggest the Drum Spike Aerator by Titan Distributors. It’s large and expensive, but it’s powerful with a whopping 78 spike punctures per rotation. You can fill the spike drum with water, sand, or another material to increase the pressure the spikes put on your soil. If you’d prefer a budget-priced pull-behind aerator, consider a lighter-weight option like the 40-inch Spike Aerator from Brinly.

Any lawn can benefit from aeration, and it’s a good idea to aerate once a year if your soil tends to compact easily, as is the case with clay-based soil. People with sandbased soil may find that aeration once every two years is sufficient. Here are some telltale signs that a lawn needs aeration: Brown or thinning grass. Grass that no longer grows. Pooled water that does not easily sink into the ground. Powered dethatchers Hard soil that is difficult to penetrate A dethatcher is not necessarily an aerator with a shovel. but dethatching and aerating often go handin-hand in preparing soil to accept nutrients. “Thatch” is the layer of dead grass and other organic material that sometimes forms on Although aeration is a healthy practice, it top of lawns, inhibiting the reception of wacould actually damage your lawn if were to ter, sunlight and other nutrients. An electric you do it at the wrong time. Do not aerate dethatcher is a machine with vertical blades grass that is dormant. Instead, wait until its that slashes through the debris on top of your growing season. The best time to aerate is lawn, so it is easier to rake away. during or right before growth season is at Some electric dethatchers also aerate, its peak. This depends on the type of grass which is why we’re mentioning them here. you have and the climate in which you live. For example, Earthwise makes a corded deIn cooler climates where bluegrass and thatcher that performs double duty, clearing ryegrass are prevalent, early spring and early debris and piercing the earth with tines for fall are good times to aerate. This allows the aeration. If you’re intrigued by the possigrass to fertilize in the winter, thus boosting bility of purchasing a dethatcher that also growth in the spring and summer. In warmer aerates, check the specs first to make sure climates, late spring to early summer is usu- it performs both functions. ally the best time.

When to aerate your lawn

Types of lawn aerators Manual lawn aerators

Spike vs. plug aeration Spike aeration

The type of aeration achieved by a pair of Manual lawn aerators require physical aerating sandals or a manual lawn aerator

is spike aeration because actual spikes are driven into the ground. This is a highly effective form of aeration, but it is quite labor intensive. If you’d prefer not to build up too much of a sweat, plug aeration is a viable alternative.

Plug aeration

Plug aeration differs from spike aeration in that, instead of stabbing the ground repeatBESTREVIEWS VIA TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE edly by hand, you pull a rotating tool with hollow steel spikes across the lawn. Some Twice-yearly aeration is often recommended plug aerators can be attached to a riding lawn for lawns that see a lot of foot traffic, even if mower or ATV and effortlessly driven across the soil is not clay-based. the lawn. If you have a large yard, you may prefer this to manually punching holes. One Mow your lawn before you aerate. of our favorite plug aerators is the towable Moisten the grass a few days before aerBrinley Plug Aerator, which removes plugs ation, so it readily accepts the blades. of soil up to 3 inches long and has a tray that Allow churned-up aeration debris to sit can be weighed down with extra poundage if on your lawn rather than cleaning it up. This you want even more force behind it. aids in the decomposition of thatch. Fertilize your lawn after aeration. Water your lawn frequently after aeration, but don’t drench it. The goal is to keep Once you have determined the right time it constantly moist but not overwatered. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. With of year to aerate your lawn and have secured your chosen equipment, it’s time to get to time, proper aeration and other healthy work. Here are a few final tips for successful lawn care practices should lead to thicker, lawn aeration: healthier, stronger grass.

Tips for aeration

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Picking plants

Once you’ve prepped your bulbs and seeds, you can head to your local nursery or garden center and get some spring plants. A mix of annuals, which die every year, and perennials, which come back to bloom year after year, will create good variety in your garden. Many flowers and trees create gorgeous, colorful blooms in the springtime, but make sure to research online, read books about gardening or speak to a local garden expert about what plants will do best in your climate.

What do you need for a spring garden?





n many places, spring seems to come out of nowhere. One day it’s snowy and gray, and the next, buds are popping and leaves are a bright, neon green. You may be looking out your kitchen or bedroom window wondering how to make your yard reflect the loveliness of the season. Creating a spring garden is all about preparation and execution. You must get your yard ready long before the first warm days of the season in order to have a garden ready for spring. You also need to do some groundwork, irrigation prep and buy some annual plants to create a haven that blooms every year. Read on to learn how to create a beautiful, flourishing spring garden.


Pay close attention to your local climate. In some parts of the world, spring seems to come and go — a 70-degree day could be followed by a cold snap with freezing temperatures and icy rain or snow. If you plant all your spring flowers only to have them die in a frost, that’s a waste and a shame. Make sure you know when spring is here to stay.

Growing food

When preparing your fruit or vegetable garden, follow the same prep steps you would for flowers. Keep in mind that, if you’re growing fruit, vegetables or herbs


Flowers Many spring flowers, like daffodils and tulips, come from bulbs. Before spring, order bulbs and plant them by hand or with a bulb planter. Keep an eye out for squirrels, dogs or other clever creatures that may unearth your bulbs before they’re ready. If you’re planning to grow flowers from seeds, you can order them ahead of time, as well. Store potted perennials in a greenhouse until it’s warm enough for them to come outside. You can start growing some seeds like begonias and geraniums in January and February so that they’re ready for spring.

from seeds, you’ll need to start planting earlier. Research which foods are ready to harvest first and what you should plant, and when. In some parts of the world, berries come in late spring, so you’ll need to be ready for them early.


Spring plants grow best with bare soil so they can reach the sun more efficiently. To get your soil ready, you can prepare the ground with a hoe. Blow or rake leaves, branches and needles up and make space for your flower beds. Put together raised beds, or get some planters or window boxes ready. Mow the lawn and tidy up the areas where you’ll grow flower beds or borders. Add debris to a composter so you can use it to fertilize later.


Check out your perennials and remove slugs, snails, aphids or other pests. You may want to use chemical pesticides or alternatives such as solar pesticides. Bugs that don’t belong can wreak havoc come springtime, so it’s best to stay on top of it early. As the season progresses, keep bee-friendly flowers and plants in your yard to promote pollina-

tion. Deer, wild rabbits and other animals that can get into your yard can destroy your hard work, so consider adding fencing or other deterrents.


If you don’t have a permanent system in place, consider setting up a drip irrigation system to get your plants watered equally. This is a great idea for beds and big planters, as well as large garden spaces. Or set up sprinklers with your hose to water as needed. Start to collect rainwater in barrels to use in your garden during dry season. Since it’s how they get water in the wild, many plants prefer rainwater to tap because of its chemical composition.


Once your land is ready for gardening, get your tools in order. If you don’t have a set already, you’ll need basic garden tools and a good shovel. A gardening cart will save your back if you’re doing a lot of hauling and planting. You need to organize your garden tools so they stay in place and in good working order. Finally, keep your hands clean and unscratched with gardening gloves thick enough to withstand rose thorns.

The colors of springtime can be muted pastels or bright and vibrant. Choose your plants based on what palette you’d like to look at on those first sunny days of springtime. Keep in mind which trees bloom with flowers in your yard and which will have bright green leaves. Many gardeners like to go for a lighter look in early spring, opting for pastel-colored tulips to pair with yellow daffodils and blossoming trees. As the season gets warmer, so do the colors, with darker hues from roses and peonies popping out later in the year, creating a deeper, more jewel-toned palette. Other gardeners opt for a monochromatic look, trying to curate all pink, purple or yellow gardens or sections. Whatever you choose, let it bring you joy and help you express your gardening artistry.

Sun exposure

Keep in mind that, even in one city with the same weather, yards vary greatly. Keep a close eye on how much sun your yard gets in the spring. Some yards get full, bright sun and some yards have more shade. Choosing plants that do well with your yard’s particular sun exposure is vital to having a healthy, beautiful spring garden. Also, keep the sun’s direction and time of day in mind. Some plants do better facing different directions because of the sunlight at different times of day.


Spring can come in phases, depending on your geographical location and climate. In some regions, gardeners divide spring planting into early, mid and late sections. They prepare to have a variety of blooms that look their best during each phase. The heartiest early bloomers come first since they’re likely to withstand the cold, erratic weather in early spring. Delicate bulbs and annual flowers often bloom in mid-spring. Finally, annuals and perennials that stay fragrant and lively through the summer bloom last.

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