Spring Clean Up in the Garden

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Over the past few years I have not done a fall clean-up in my garden. It’s not that I’m lazy, but that I have learned to leave flower heads as a food source for birds. I leave other spent plant material and warm season ornamental grasses for insects and birds to use for protection from predators or as a protected place to overwinter. Spent flower heads and grasses can also add ornamental interest, movement and sound to the winter garden.

A wheelbarrow in the garden filled with branches and weeds.So I save my garden clean up until spring these days and this month is a good time to get into the garden and clean up for the new season. Cut back old flower heads and other spent herbaceous plants now. Warm season ornamental grasses should be cut back now before new growth begins. Don’t cut the grasses all the way down to the ground, but leave 4-6”. If your ornamental grasses may need to be divided, save that chore until early summer when they are actively growing.

If you may have already made a pre-emergent application to control crabgrass in your lawn, you may need to consider how saturated our soils have been and consider making a second application. Crabgrass will continue to germinate throughout the summer, so if you had a lot of crabgrass last year, you may need to make a second application of crabgrass control about 6 weeks after the first application.

If you have plants that may have some winter dieback, you can prune back to healthy tissue at this time. Also remove any broken, damaged, crossing or rubbing stems. Hedges can receive their first shearing this month if needed.

Spring is also a good time to look forward to future plans for your garden. You can layout and prepare new ornamental planting beds in the spring for fall planting. Connect with a local tree company to get free wood chips or you can get on a list for free wood chips at getchipdrop.com. Make sure to read the delivery conditions & watch the video before you sign up. You can cover a newly planned garden area with 12” of wood mulch. This will kill the vegetation underneath, and will quickly begin to break down, helping to make a good bed for fall planting.