The chill of winter is subsiding, and the signs of spring are emerging. Time to get the garden ready!
The bulk of late winter garden maintenance lies in cleanup but there is quite a bit of pruning to be done as well. Late February into March is the perfect time to get your garden ready for spring. Don’t fret if you are a little late, jump out there when you can.
Rake out any remaining leaves from beds and lawn along with any branches from winter storms. In the fall leaves can be raked into beds for additional winter insulation and added organic matter- anything that remains can be removed now- but don’t worry about getting every speck.
Drain your water feature and remove any debris that has settled on the bottom. Clean any debris from the pump and filter. Submersible pumps will typicslly have a basket style filter on the outside of the intake to keep debris from being sucked into the pump- this can be easily removed to clean any debris or buildup. Helpful hint: complete any pruning or cleanup around the water feature before tackling this task- bonus if you mulch prior as well!
This handy tool can help you pump the water out of your water feature.
Dump out any standing water in bird baths and clean the surfaces as needed.
Patios and other surfaces can be pressure washed, swept, or hosed down as needed to remove any slippery winter residue or stuck on leaf debris.
There are many plants that can be pruned in late winter / early spring. The benefit of pruning this time of year is that new growth will be on its way shortly to hide any unsightly cuts especially if you do a lot of pruning to reduce the size of something. Tree pruning on deciduous species is much easier this time of year as you can really see the structure better without the foliage to prune only what you truly want removed.
Evergreen ferns, grasses, and perennials (most of them) can be cut back now to remove any winter tattered foliage and make way for fresh new growth. Cutting back the foliage on Hellebores is especially rewarding as it makes the flowers more visible, same with Epimedium. If you have a native area, tackle cutting back those sword ferns too- the fiddle heads that you will be able to see emerge are stunning.
Cut back any remaining blooms on your hydrangeas but be sure to know how far to cut back depending on the type of hydrangea. Some bloom on old wood and some bloom on new growth- you don’t want to cut off this year’s blooms before they open! If you are not sure what you have you can be safe by cutting off only the blooms back to the first visible bud.
If you pressure washed your sand-set stone or paver patio you will need to reinstall polymeric sand. Keep in mind this needs to be done on a dry day when the patio surface is also dry to keep the new sand from sticking to the surface. There are a couple brands that can be installed when it is wet but even then it is much easier when the patio is dry.
Dividing perennials and grasses (if you desire) is typically done now as well. There are some that you may have to wait until they start to emerge from the soil to find though. If you don’t want to divide plants but know that some of them were getting a bit too large you can simply cut around the edges to reduce their size.
Mulch! A new layer of mulch will help reduce weed growth. We recommend a composted bark or black bark as the compost adds nutrients to the soil for healthier plants and soil. Bonus- Healthy soil also helps with drainage issues and makes weeds easier to pull! Be sure to clear out any weeds prior to mulching and install a nice thick layer about 1.5”-2” thick.
Now the garden is ready, sit back with your beverage of choice and enjoy the show as spring foliage and blooms emerge! Don’t forget to capture photos of your favorite moments and be sure to share.