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A-Z Garden Tips: eXcavating for eXtra Planting Space

Mother’s Day is just around the bend, which means flower planting time is coming to the region. Like most gardeners in these parts, I can hardly wait. So I am preparing the terrain, so to speak.

Now that winter appears to have whirled away for good (although one never knows in the Upper Midwest), I am excavating areas of my garden that seem to have weathered the colder months less successfully. I’m digging out perennials and groundcover plants that aren’t coming back.

At the same time, I am pulling out emerging garden weeds – before they have a chance to become established this season.

My tool pick for this job is actually a lightweight, but sturdy, long-handled garden spade that is marketed for kids. (I like the Ames True Temper Real Tools For Kids Round Point Shovel With 36-Inch Handle, as seen here.) I love how easy this shovel is to wield, and the blade is just the right size for digging out and around single plantings and nasty weeds without damaging desirable neighboring plants.

I’m also cleaning out my patio pots and flower boxes.

This year, I am tossing all of the rooted dirt inside these planters, as I should have done more thoroughly last year. I’m scrubbing and rinsing the insides. (I prefer the OXO Good Grips Safe for Ceramic Palm Brush for this purpose, as it does not damage my terra cotta or ceramic garden pots. I keep one, as shown in the photo, with my gardening tools and supplies, so I don't mix it up with the one in the kitchen.)

When Mother’s Day arrives, and the hordes of horticultural hobbyists march into the local garden center, I will be ready to plant.

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  1. I'm a gardener also. The problem for me has been that Chicago has been too cold to garden. However, the weather is warming up and I should be able to get into my garden soon!

    Precious Monsters

  2. My hydrangeas are finally becoming green. It seems very late this year. We had much cooler weather longer than normal in MD. Love that idea of a small, child's garden spade. i still use my daughter's little rake from years ago! Love your gardening tips.
    Joan (



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