Budding Tips


Time for a Spring Cleanup

by Melinda Myers

Prepare your garden and landscape for the season ahead with a bit of spring cleanup. Investing time now will increase your landscape's health and beauty so you can better enjoy your landscape throughout the season.

Start by cutting back any tall ornamental grasses you left standing for the winter. A hand pruner works great for small plantings while a string trimmer or hedge clipper will make larger jobs go more quickly. You can wait for the new growth on shorter grasses to fill in then simply comb your fingers through the plant removing the old brown leaves.

Next cut back perennials you left standing for the winter. Prune brown stems back to the ground. Remove dead leaves on ground hugging plants. And watch for and leave any new growth that may already be peeking through the soil.

Place all this winter interest right into the compost pile. Shredding first speeds up the decomposition but given time all these clippings will turn into valuable compost for your garden.

This is also a good time to check for frost heaving. Fluctuating winter temperatures causes bare soil to alternately freeze, thaw and refreeze. This can cause the soil to shift and actually push spring flower bulbs, coral bells, daylilies and other perennials out of the soil. Just gently push them back in place or reset, making sure the roots are covered.

Russian sage and butterfly bush need to be pruned. Cut Russian sage back to 4 to 6 inches above the soil surface. This will help control the height and reduce floppy growth. If your Russian sage plants still flop prune them a second time. Cut stems back halfway in mid June.

Butterfly bush should also be pruned back to 4 to 6 inches above the soil. Once the pruning is done - wait. This is especially important when we have a cool wet spring. Butterfly bushes may lay dormant until late June, then start to grow. You'll be amazed at how quickly they reach full size and produce an abundance of blooms covered with butterflies.

Remove any fall leaves that collected in the gardens over winter. Piles of matted leaves on the crowns of plants can lead to disease and decline. But don't discard this great resource. Instead shred them and use them as mulch in the garden or addition to the compost pile.

Freshen the mulch in planting beds and around trees and shrubs. A two to three inch layer of woodchip or bark mulch not only dresses up the landscape, it also helps suppress weeds, conserve moisture and improve the soil as it breaks down.

And don't be afraid to ask for help. The professionals at Kanavas Landscape Management are happy to take this task off your To Do list. They'll get your garden in shape and looking its best for the upcoming outdoor season.

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