It’s that time again! Yep, time to get out there in the yard and begin the spring cleanup. Our winters aren’t so long or so cold, but they can be really messy. Chances are your yard and garden are full of half-alive or half-dead plants, wind strewn debris and maybe even some old damp sheets or things used to cover your most sensitive plants during a couple of chilly nights.
First step is a walkabout in the yard to decide which plants did not make it or which plants you want to replace with a better option for this new season of spring and summer. Be sure to collect the tools you may need to clip, rake, clean and dig. If you didn’t sterilize your garden tools before you put them away, this would be a good time to sharpen, clean and sterilize them. Sharpening, a warm soapy water wash and a swipe of oil will make them perform so much better. If you don’t want to sharpen your own, local garden centers or individuals are usually around the corner and willing to help.
Cut back carefully. Perennials and evergreens and semi-evergreens have foliage that is still alive, so be nice. Reach into the plant with your gloved hand and pull out any loose debris first to be able to get a good look at what you have to work with. Then cut off the old growth gently so you don’t push and pull and disturb the healthy part of the plant. Use little tiny shears or even house scissors if your garden shears are too large. Gardengate suggests cutting back these plants with the most care: bergenia, coral bells, epimedium, hellebores and pinks (dianthus).
Pull out your leaf rake, which should be strong enough to remove dead leaves and yet not disturb existing plant tops. Dead leaves and stems will be easily raked away with a vigorous raking this time of year. Some groundcover areas are a good target for the leaf rake. Avoid using the heavy metal rigid version or rake. It might damage emerging growth. Get all that dead stuff out, and then your plants will have room to begin to fill in with new growth.
Pick up, put up, wash up and clean up your yard. Maybe tackle a 15-minute project area per day if the whole yard seems too daunting. You’ll be glad you did. Celebrate with a cup of coffee and a new plant catalog viewing when you’re ready to take a break.
Joette is an avid gardener and prides herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.