Spring cleanup for a healthy, beautiful landscape

Submitted Photo As the snow recedes, get a head start on this season’s gardening by pruning.

Satisfy your gardening itch with a bit of spring cleaning. Take advantage of warm days in late winter or early to mid-spring to get a head start on this season’s gardening.

Cut back tall ornamental grasses you left standing for the winter. Use a hand pruner for small plantings and a string trimmer or hedge clipper to make larger jobs go more quickly. Secure the tops of grass plants with twine or bungee cords before cutting for quicker cleanup.

Next prune perennials left standing for winter. Cut brown stems back to the ground and remove dead leaves on ground hugging plants. Be careful not to damage new growth that may already be peeking through the soil.

Consider stacking this winter interest out of the way in case any overwintering insects are still hibernating inside the hollow stems. Then chop and compost this debris midsummer.

Leave shortened stems of butterfly weed and hardy hibiscus in place to mark their location in the garden. You’ll reduce the risk of accidentally weeding out these late emerging perennials. Consider planting a few spring flowering bulbs next to them this fall to serve as a colorful place holder.

Prune Russian sage, caryopteris and butterfly bush back to four to six inches above the soil surface. You’ll remove any dead wood, control the height and reduce floppy growth.

Finish any winter pruning needed on summer flowering shrubs. Wait to prune spring flowering shrubs like lilac and forsythia until right after they flower.

Lightly rake your lawn as the snow recedes. Use a leaf rake to fluff the grass to speed drying and reduce the risk of snow mold in areas where snow lingers on the lawn.

Gardening expert Melinda Myers is the author of more than 20 gardening books, including The Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally-syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ website, www.MelindaMyers.com, features gardening videos, gardening checklists and more.


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