The days are getting longer, the birds are chirping, and the rains have started. It must be spring! Some of the bulbs are even poking their little heads out to say hello. These welcome signs of spring have many of us itching to get into our yards for some spring clean-up.
If you left leaves and organic materials in your beds last fall, wait to clean them up until daytime temps are consistently in the 50s. Leaving this material for just a little longer gives beneficial insects like butterflies, bees, and lady bugs plenty of time to wake up and start their lives anew. Likewise, wait to cut back perennials, shrubs, and grasses to protect any beneficials that may have slept in the stalks or attached to the stems.
PERENNIALS AND GRASSES
Use a clean pruner to cut perennials down to where new growth is emerging, but leave spring blooming perennials alone so that you can enjoy their flowers. Remove dead leaves and spent flower stalks from hostas and coral bells. Uncover bulbs in early spring when new growth starts to emerge.
TREES AND SHRUBS
Assess trees and shrubs and prune out any dead, damaged, or unruly branches. Many shrubs do great with a good spring haircut but be sure to avoid pruning early bloomers like lilac, azalea, chokeberries, and forsythia until after they have finished blooming. If you have Hydrangea macrophylla like Endless Summer, or weigela that blooms on old wood (last year’s growth), put the shears down and wait until new growth starts so you can see what is actually dead before you prune lightly.
ODDS AND ENDS
- Remove and compost any annuals that you left last fall.
- Divide crowded perennials like hostas, irises, and daylilies.
- Assess flower and shrub plantings for overcrowded or bare spots.
- Add mulch or compost as needed to flower beds in late spring.
- Prepare and plan vegetable beds and amend with compost or aged manure.