When planning seasonal cleanups, don’t forget your yard

Spring is the busiest season of the year for the avid perennial gardener. We’ve all spent many gloomy winter days gazing longingly at our landscape beds. When the weather begins to warm, fingers start itching to get out there and start getting dirty.

Spring is the busiest season of the year for the avid perennial gardener. We’ve all spent many gloomy winter days gazing longingly at our landscape beds. When the weather begins to warm, fingers start itching to get out there and start getting dirty.

Below are five tips to clean up your landscape for spring:

1. Clear your flowerbeds of debris

The first task is to re-edge the borders of the beds. This looks good and helps define the division between landscape and lawn. Then spend time cleaning out all the leftover leaves from last fall.

Make sure any other unwanted yard debris is also cleaned out of the beds, such as pinecones and needles, sticks, acorns, weeds and rotted mulch.

2. Check your plants for winter damage

Once the beds have been rid of unwanted debris, you can finally inspect your plant material for winter damage. Broken branches and limbs need to be carefully pruned off.

Check for dead spots on evergreen trees and shrubs. Deciduous trees and shrubs are inspected for buds to make sure they have wintered over.

Also, look carefully for other types of damage such as woodland creatures munching on the plants.

3. Move and divide perennials, if necessary

Next, it’s good to decide which perennials need to be moved or divided. I usually do most of my moving and dividing in the late fall before the frost, but it’s important to note that most perennials can be moved in very early spring if they haven’t started pushing significant new growth.

If you must move or divide a perennial later in the season, always cut back the foliage by at least half to prevent wilting. This helps keep the leaf mass in proportion to the reduced number of roots.

4. Fertilize your plants

When all plant maintenance has been taken care of and yard waste discarded away, it’s time to apply an organic granular fertilizer to all landscape plants.

Be sure to sprinkle the fertilizer around the base of your plants, not directly on them. This will help to avoid burning the foliage. Then, spread a pre-emergent weed control product in the beds to stop any weed seeds from germinating.

5. Apply organic mulch

The final step in spring-cleaning the landscape is to apply a fresh layer of organic mulch. Organic mulches include shredded bark, wood chips, pine straw, sawdust and shredded leaves to name a few.

Mulches add organic matter to the soil, improving its structure. They cover the soil and help smother weeds, reducing time spent pulling them. Perhaps the biggest benefit of mulches is that they help keep the soil cool and moist during summer months, reducing watering needs and avoiding drought stress.

Mulches should be no thicker than two to three inches. Be sure not to heap it all over and smother your plants to death.

For those of you who love getting dirty, I hope this spring cleaning for the landscape is helpful and informative. Happy landscaping!

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