"Put supports for floppy perennials like peonies and delphiniums in now," says Nardozzi. It's easier than trying to force them into cages when full-grown. Use the smaller, thinner branches you pruned as stakes.
Most experts also advise putting a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch around trees and shrubs and on flower beds to cut down on weeds. And feeding plants in the spring with a slow-release fertilizer makes them less susceptible to pests and diseases later, when you want to sit and enjoy the fruits (and flowers) of your labors.
How to save money on your spring garden
- Don't be seduced by 1- or 2-gallon pots, says Michael Glassman, a Sacramento, Calif.-based landscape designer, author and lecturer. "Buy 4-inch to 6-inch pots," he says. "The plants will catch up with the bigger sizes." This is especially true for ornamental grasses. "If you buy small plants in the spring, by the end of summer they will have matured into the large plants that sold for two or three times as much," he says.
- Buy annuals by the flat. It's less costly than if you buy individual cell packs — and even cheaper if you buy seeds and sow directly into the ground. Some annuals are self-seeding (California poppy, bachelor's button, for example), meaning they drop seeds and you won't have to buy new plants every year.
- "Schedule an early spring seed and plant swap with friends or neighbors," says Long. "It's a good way to save some money and make new gardening friends."