Mulch madness from The Spruce

Mulch Madness: Let's Get Ready to Garden!

Welcome to Mulch Madness! It's time to get your garden ready for the growing season, and our 16-day "full court press" will get you there.

The stakes are high, but your flowers will be higher. From creating a perfect garden layout to planting container gardens, flower beds, and vegetable patches, we've got all of the tips, tricks, and expert-approved product recommendations to make your garden a slam dunk this year.

Day 1: Let's Get Ready to Garden!

Day 1 get ready to garden

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The first step to a successful garden is learning the basics. Knowing what exactly you can do in the garden at this time of year, what garden tools you need for planting and day-to-day maintenance, and brushing up on a few garden and yard trends will get you set up for success.

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Day 2: Set Your Bracket

Day 2 set your bracket

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Whether you are starting a garden for the first time or are just looking for tips to improve your efforts, choosing your plants and designing a layout can help get you on the right track. Your USDA hardiness zone will determine what plants will do best in your climate and weather conditions, while choosing the healthiest plants at the nursery will also mean avoiding potential future problems once you get growing.

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Day 3: Play Defense Against Bad Weather

Day 3 play defense against bad weather

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Let’s face it: even once the clocks spring forward and the weather starts to warm up, we’re not immune to some unexpected conditions at this time of year. While frost can have a big effect on your plants, there are a few things you can do to both protect your plants and to save them from frost damage once it happens.

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Day 4: Get Down & Dirty

Day 4 get down & dirty

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Knowing your dirt is an essential part of the gardening process. While some of us may live in areas with perfect soil, others will need to know how to make their soil healthier so plants can thrive. From conducting pH tests to buying topsoil and compost in bulk to using soil amendments, get down and dirty with these tips.

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Day 5: Create a Home Court Advantage

Day 5 create a home court advantage

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Fertilizer can work wonders in your garden and on your lawn. But fertilizer isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and one type of fertilizer may do the trick while another won’t have the desired effect. 

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Day 6: Prune the Field

Day 6 prune the field

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While some plants can be left alone without much maintenance, others need to be pruned to encourage more growth. Flowers, shrubs, and trees may require pruning. Using the right pruners and the right technique will help you get the most out of your plants.

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Day 7: Onto the Lawn Care

day 7 onto the lawn care

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Once you’ve started on the path to healthy flowers and shrubs, it’s time to turn some attention to the lawn. Spring is a great time of year to get your lawn in its best shape possible, from cutting it properly to removing unwanted crabgrass. Plus, the right lawn mower, grass seed, and sprinklers will help keep your lawn lush all through the growing season.

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Day 8: Mulch Maintenance

Day 8 mulch maintenance

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Mulch is one of those aspects of gardening that not everyone uses, but everyone can benefit from. Mulch can be used in garden beds and around trees, but choosing the right mulch for your purposes and gardening goals is important.

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Day 9: Tomato Tuesday

day 9 tomato tuesday

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Whether you have a full-blown vegetable garden or prefer flower gardening, tomatoes can be a rewarding plant for any gardener. Tomatoes can be grown in pots or in the ground, on vines or bushes, and with trellises or cages for support. And who doesn’t want a few freshly picked tomatoes for dinner?

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Day 10: Get an Assist

Day 10 get an assist

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Companion planting is one of the most overlooked yet effective ways to ensure a healthier garden. Companion plants can make maintenance easier by grouping plants with similar needs together. But this style of planting can also have other benefits, like deterring pests. Find out which herbs, flowers, and other companion plants you should be trying this year.

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Day 11: Keep It Inbounds

Day 11 keep it inbounds

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Container gardens can be grown almost anywhere: from large backyards with plenty of flower beds and large patios, to the smallest apartment balcony. Whether you like full and varied containers complete with spiller plants or just want a simple set up to attract butterflies, we're here to help you set up your dream container garden.

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Day 12: Prepare for the Next Round

Day 12 prepare for the next round

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There's still plenty to do in the garden as we get further into spring, and plenty of color to see. Whether you are looking for flower recommendations to bring your spring garden to life, or potting benches to keep those gardening projects on track, we have everything to help you prepare for the next round.

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Day 13: Weed Out the Losers

Day 13 weed out the losers

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Weeds are an annoying yet unavoidable part of the gardening process. While some weeds are harmless and can be left alone, others may spread quickly and be an unwelcome sight in your beautifully planned garden. From weed killers to landscape fabric, it's time to weed out the losers so your plants can shine.

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Day 14: Size Up Your Competition

Day 14 size up your competition

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Aphids, ants, voles, slugs, rabbits—the list of pests that can ruin your hard work in the garden can seem endless. But keeping your plants pest-free starts by sizing up your competition and knowing just the right way to repel them.

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Day 15: Raise Championship Plants

Day 15 raise championship plants

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Having an issue with ornamental trees? Need your vegetables to grow faster? Not sure how to solve common rose issues? Troubleshoot your garden with these tips and raise championship plants.

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Day 16: Congrats, Lawn & Garden Champion!

Day 16 congrats, lawn and garden champion

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Congratulations, you're a lawn and garden champion! If you're still itching for a few extra tips and tricks, try some of these year-round plant ideas and essential tools you'll always want to keep on hand.