Make way for budding blooms by clearing out old, spent plants and leaves.

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When it comes to redesigning your home, you already know that updates and renovations take careful planning. The very same is true for your garden. While it's tempting to wait until April or the first signs of spring to get your hands dirty, gardening expert Molly E. Williams believes that the important work starts much sooner. "Pre-spring cleaning your garden is as important as cleaning inside your home. Without it, new growth in the garden struggles to make its way through the debris," she explains. Whether you're beginning your garden from scratch or revamping a mature plot, Williams' expert tips will get you started on the right foot this season. 

Martha Stewart harvesting potatoes in her garden
Credit: John Kernick

Understand your zone.

Research should be the very first task on your list. "Before you start digging in your garden, make sure that it's the appropriate time to do so based on your agricultural zone. If the ground is still frozen and there's still a threat of frost, you'll mostly be wasting your time. The zones correlate to your geographical location—which is very important to understand," Williams shares.  

Clean out your garden beds.

Before you add anything new, you must tend to what is already there. "Rake old leaves and mulch out of the beds to get ready for new growth and planting," she tells us. Another important tip? "There's been a lot of chatter (at least, that I've noticed) about hibernating pollinators with chrysalides that look like dead leaves. Instead of removing your leaf pile, wait until later in the spring when they've hatched," she says, to keep these good-for-your-garden bugs around.

Purchase your seeds.

When it comes to buying seeds for your garden, consider the old adage that less is more. Rather than planting all of your seeds in one season, try implementing your garden's growth in stages. According to Williams, "It's so easy to go overboard and end up with too much product. Learn to reel yourself in—your future self will thank you." She also notes that planning is key when it comes to successfully planting seeds. "Every seed has different germination requirements. Some need to be started indoors while others will need to be direct seeded. If you have a lot of planning to do, make yourself a calendar that highlights what needs to be started or planted when," she explains.

Invest in quality tools.

Just as we choose to invest in quality pots and pans for cooking, or in well-made furniture for the interior of our home, the same philosophy should be applied to your garden tools. "It might be tempting to go cheap, but remember that these tools will be an extension of yourself as you garden. A solid, quality tool will last you your entire life, while a cheaper product might break within a few years," Williams shares. The key gardening essentials to invest in include a garden trowel for digging holes and trenches, a cultivator for loosening the soil, and a trowel, which is best suited for planting bulbs. This three-piece stainless-steel set ($81.13, amazon.com), designed by Martha herself, has everything you need to get started.

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