When it comes to spring garden cleanup, I am definitely more of a ‘slow and steady wins the race’ kind of gardener. I do admire Weekend Warriors that get out there and get everything cleaned up and ready for the season in just two days off, whilst they limp to work Monday morning to recoup :). But it’s just not my style. Not anymore anyway. At this stage in the game, I’m learning to enjoy the process of spring garden cleanup instead of treating it as a chore to just get through. Though plants wait for no one. When it’s time for them to break ground, it doesn’t matter if you still need to rake and remove winter debris, spring happens fast and furious. Waiting for a day-long block of ‘free’ time to get started will only allow me to procrastinate, instead I do tasks on a priority basis and steal 15 minutes here and there.
How do you decide what garden task takes priority for your time? Start with the hot spots. Hot spots are any planted area near your house foundation, driveway, or walkways. The ground is always warmer in those areas so the plants are going to wake very quickly.
Next up for cleanup would be any areas that bulbs are planted. Not too much uglier than knocking beautiful tulips and daffodils to the ground because you want to rake the ground around them. Leaf clean up of the showy winter perennials needs attention before they start to produce new healthy foliage. Plants like heuchera and epimediums are wonderful to see in the winter, but by this time their leaves are just done, and you don’t want new foliage mixed with the raggedy old. Cut them back right to the new growth at the crown and they’ll be back and beautiful before you know it.
Lavender needs early spring attention before they wake up too much. I am not a fan of hard pruning my lavender plants unless they need it. Lavender with plump looking healthy foliage is left to grow big and beefy, while any branches with shriveled looking branches gets trimmed. This is a good time to snip any of last years flower stalks before new buds get mingled with the old sticks.
Gardening is just short of something miraculous, and there is always something to discover. Don’t wait to get out there and get your hands dirty!
Heather Thibeault is a life-long gardener, plant collector, and Burnett’s employee.