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Spring Clean Up

Your Checklist for a Healthy Spring Garden 💐

April is the time of year when we eagerly await the first sign of the spring flowering bulbs that we patiently planted last year. It is also an ideal time to clean up your garden. Clean up can begin as soon as the soil is dry enough – it should crumble in your hands, not stick together in clods.

🍃 Matted leaves can smother your emerging plants. Clean perennial beds by removing clumps of leaves by hand, making sure not to damage new sprouts. However, if you shredded your leaves the previous fall, leaf mulch left on the beds will result in organic matter being added to the soil through decomposition. Stalks of perennials which are still standing from the previous year can be cut down to their crown. Be careful not to damage the new growth. If last year’s growth was diseased (i.e. powdery mildew) do not place this in your compost pile. This is a good time to replant any perennials that have been heaved out of the soil exposing their roots e.g. Heucheras/Coral Bells and divide mature perennials and ornamental grasses, as needed. Make sure not to trample on the perennials that are slow to wake up and have not broken through the soil.

🌾 Ornamental grasses should be cut down as short as possible. Clear away the debris so that you are not leaving a home for unwanted pests.

🌺 Compost any annuals that were left over from the previous year. Soil from last years planters or pots can be used to top-dress your beds, or put in your compost pile.

This is a good time to transplant shrubs (before they leaf out in the spring) that either have outgrown their space or are not thriving. Prune shrubs to remove dead, diseased and crossed branches. Before leaf emergence is the best time to shape the shrub, by removing the longest, awkward stems back to just above an outward facing bud.

If the shrub flowers in the spring, (before mid-June), prune it after it blooms. If it flowers late in the season, (after mid-June), prune it early in the spring.

🌳 To rejuvenate a mature or old shrub, remove only a third of the oldest stems from the base of the plant every year for 3 years. These are usually the thickest stems. This will allow sunlight into the middle of the plant and encourage new growth. Do not remove more than 1/3 of the stems each year.

🌱 Many weeds can be controlled during spring clean-up. They are easier to pull out when young and the soil is moist. Mulching open soil areas using such materials as compost, shredded leaves, fine bark chips or straw to about 2 to 3 inches of thickness, will minimize the spread of weeds, retain moisture, prevents soil erosion and improve the soil quality.

🌻 This is also a good time of year to amend your soil with the addition of organic compost, shredded or composted leaves or rotted manure.

🌿 At this time of year, rake the lawn to remove thatch, leaves and other debris only if walking on the lawn leaves no footprints. This ensures that the soil is sufficiently dry enough that walking on the lawn will not compact the soil.

🌸 If you missed reseeding your lawn last September, or have bare patches, spring is the second-best time to seed a lawn. Top dress with compost or purchased soil such as a triple mix (loam, peat and well-rotted manure). Keep newly seeded areas moist.

Stay safe and garden on!

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