Welcome back to the garden! Are you raring to get out there? Good for you, but you might want to wait a bit on raking your lawn or uncovering your more tender perennials. Wait until your lawn isn't spongy so you don’t compact it, and if you do uncover your plants, keep the mulch close at hand in case it dips below freezing. (And yes, we know from all those leaf bags in the alleys that you’ve been at it already anyway.)

Don’t worry -- there’s plenty on the garden to-do list that won’t make a Master Gardener tsk-tsk at you. Here are five things to get you ready for the season.

1. Get your seeds ready. It’s already sowing time for some indoor seeds such as tomatoes and peppers. But even if you aren’t into seed-starting inside, there are plenty you can gather now so you’re ready to go once we’re past frost danger in mid-May. Check out the selection at local garden centers, or go through your catalogs to check out the latest offerings for seeds you’ll sow directly in the ground like lettuce, beans, peas or nasturiums. For a handy chart on what to sow when in your area, click here.

2.  Weed. No really. There’s nearly always an offender that’s snuck through and is an early riser (like chickweed, clover or the grass that spreads from the yard). Now’s the time to root them out before they’re competing with perennials.

3.  Repair your tools or infrastructure. If your fence needs painting, pick a nice day before your plants grow up around it. If your watering system took a beating from rodents last year, get new lengths of hose. Make sure your shears are sharp. I’ve got a leaky rain barrel that needs some attention before the spring rains come. Don’t have one? Now’s a good time to get one in place.

4.  Clean out the garage or basement, wherever your garden staging area is. Just like wardrobe transition season, it’s time (yay!!!) to stow the shovel, roof rake and ice chipper more gracefully than where you probably flung them after the last snowfall. Time to bring the hoe and spade back to front and center, and make sure the lawn mower’s ready to go before your grass is.

5.  Spread compost. If you didn’t spread it last fall, it will have had plenty of time to cook and be ready to spread. The compost piles wake up before any spring bloom, and the warming sun already has abeen doing its job. If like me you’ve been adding to the top of the pile all winter, now you should be able to stir it up to incorporate the new material.
What’s growing in your yard? I’ve got a few bleeding hearts and lilies poking through and some chives, otherwise it’s just weeds and moss up at my house.Tell us about what's growing in your neck of the woods. Whatever’s up at your place, a little prep work will get you ready to give it a good home. And happy spring!