What Can I Do Now to the Soil in My Garden to Get it Ready for Spring?

Don’t forget about your soil during the winter months. Know what you can do in winter to prepare your soil for spring.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

Prune Back Old Wood

Late winter and early spring are ideal times to start pruning because you can get to the plant before it starts budding. You’ll want to prune Butterfly Bush, Flowering Dogwood, Honeysuckle, Hydrangeas, Redbud, Spirea, Crepe Myrtle, Rose and Wisteria. Be sure to clean your pruners after trimming each plant with isopropyl alcohol to prevent the spread of any plant disease.

Plant Cover Crops

Cover crops can help feed your soil throughout the winter because they add organic matter and balance nutrients. Cover crops can improve the soil structure, increase water retention, drainage and improve aeration. Cover crops can also covert nitrogen in the atmosphere into a form plants can use. When cover crops are turned over, the nitrogen gets released for spring crops. Try growing these plants during winter.

Know the Frost Line

Plants need to grow roots that extend beyond the frost line in your climate zone in order to survive the winter, so doing what you can to promote root growth will help your soil and plants. Organic matter can act like an insulator for roots. Mulch like wood chips or leaves are good options for organic matter cover for your soil.

Gardener adds mulch Ozgur Coskun/ Shutterstock

For Milder Climates

If you live in a milder climate, you can obviously do more work with your soil, garden and yard during the winter. Here are some of the things you can do for your soil in the winter in warmer climates.

Top Dress Lawn With Compost

Adding compost to your lawn can help with rain absorption and it adds nutrients plants need. Compost also has earthworms that can help aerate the soil and it can inhibit weed growth.

Add Soil Conditioner

A soil conditioner can rejuvenate soil in a couple of weeks. John and Bob’s Soil optimizer is a popular choice and it contains a blend of minerals and humus, which help microbes in soil. The soil optimizer can increase nutrient intake and provide better disease resistance.


Soil tends to become compacted during winter so you’ll want to loosen it or till it in the spring. One way to deal with soil compaction during winter in warmer climates is to add mulch to your soil. It’ll create a barrier between rain and your soil, decreasing compaction and erosion. Mulch will also decrease water use and prevent weed growth.

Next, check out some of our favorite gardening hacks in the following video.