[:en]Spring is in the air and that means it’s time to start thinking about your garden, if you intend to plant one this year. By planning ahead you can make the most of your garden and grow all the delicious veggies, fragrant herbs, and beautiful flowers your heart desires. Soon you will have tons of fresh produce for your own family, and probably plenty of extras to hand out to friends, family, and co-workers. Here are our top five tips for your spring garden:

Find the Perfect Spot

If you don’t already have a designated spot in your yard for your garden, it’s time to decide where your garden will go and how large it will be. Think about how many plants you intend to grow, and remember that seedlings need a good amount of space between them to grow without getting cramped and hogging sunlight and nutrients from each other. This helpful chart shows you how much space each type of plant requires.

You should also plant your garden somewhere with plenty of sunlight. For an especially convenient and easy way to grow a garden, consider building your own raised bed, following directions found online. A raised bed helps you totally control the soil quality and keep pests away.

Prepare Your Soil

If you’re planting your garden in the same spot as last year, you’ll need to start by raking up leaves, branches, and other debris, leaving a clean area. Next, you should turn the soil in order to aerate it and incorporate lots of oxygen. Mixing in a layer of rich compost (that you make yourself or buy at a garden center) will make your soil extra fertile and help your plants thrive more easily. If you are starting from scratch in a raised bed or container garden, you can simply buy new soil. Be sure to consult with your local gardening center to see which type of soil works best in your area.

Know Your Zone and Plan Accordingly

Knowing what planting zone you are in is crucial to the success of your garden. Certain plants only grow well in some regions of the country. Plus, your zone affects the ideal time of year to plant your garden, since the final freeze of the year varies greatly from region to region. Start by locating your zone here, and then use this information when making garden-related decisions.

Upgrade Your Watering System

Standing outside with a hose for several hours a week can quickly become tedious, causing you to lose interest in your garden before it even really gets going. Plus, hand-watering is an inexact science, making it way too easy to over- or under-water your plants. Consider switching to a drip irrigation system, which delivers water exactly where it most benefits your plants, and in the correct amounts. Your water bills may become more reasonable as well, since drip irrigation tends to be much less wasteful.

Have a Plan for Weeds

If your garden is on the small side, you might want to just pull up weeds as they grow, rather than prevent them with harsh chemicals that can have negative effects for your plants. The best time to pull weeds is after a good rain, when the soil is soft and pliant. Adding mulch in between plants can be an effective weed deterrent since mulch blocks oxygen and sunlight from reaching the weeds, killing them off before they have a chance to grow. You can also try one of these natural, homemade weed killer recipes.

Did we miss any amazing gardening tips? Let us know! We hope working in the garden (and enjoying its bounty) is extra fulfilling this year.[:]