Although there aren’t many of us that do such complete seasonal cleaning in our homes any longer, you should in your garden!
We are starting to have some springlike, comfortable weather days and if you are like us, you are spending them outdoors after the snowy winter. Last weekend we started our spring cleaning in our beds, and I wanted to give you a quick list of things to do now in order to get ready for gardening season.
Start with your beds. Remove leaves and other debris that blew in during winter. This is especially important because leaves, twigs and other things can harbor disease.
Cut back foliage, dig out weeds and pull mulch away from roses. Clean up twigs, remove evergreen boughs if you used them as protection for shrubs and perennials in the garden after the holiday season. Now is also the time to start prepping your garden for planting by adding organic matter. Tilling this in will not only help to improve your soil, but it will also loosen soil that has compacted over the winter.
Depending on where you live, March is also the time to begin to trim and prune your perennials, trees and shrubs. In general, you want to do this before they begin their spring growth. You may need to prune if branches have been broken from the winter snows, but it is also a good idea to prune to shape and because pruning will help produce more lush growth in the spring. Perennials can be cut back, or divided and relocated to other places in your garden now as well. You want to do this when the plant is just breaking dormancy in order for its energy to be directed towards new root and leaf growth.
Mulch can be added to your garden now. Mulch is one of the most important things in my garden. I use it for pathways, to help keep weeds in check, to help retain moisture, to prevent weeds and help regulate soil temperature. It will also add organic matter to your soil as it decomposes so it’s an important tool in a healthy, thriving garden. March signals the start of mud season so it’s the perfect time to add mulch, because it also keeps the mud in check which is especially helpful if you have young children or pets going in and out frequently.
Check for pests and critters as the days begin to warm and they begin to move around and be more active. We noticed mole and vole holes in our yard over the weekend and took some time to put treatments down to discourage them. These subterranean critters are capable of quite a bit of damage if not controlled early.
Clean up paths and walkways so that you will be safe as you begin to move around your yard and garden. Sweep stones, pebbles and mulch back into their rightful place. Remove leaves that may have collected over the winter so that you don’t slip on wet surfaces during rain storms or when you water. Check for frost heaves on stepping stone walkways and replace as needed.
Use this time to clean up and sharpen your tools. They’ll thank you and you’ll be glad you did when you need to grab something quickly later. Just like with kitchen knives, sharp tools are easier and safer to use.
And finally, now is the time to start planning your garden in earnest. Even though we are having more snow this week, spring is coming more quickly than you think, if the plants in our area are any indication. Longer days mean that daffodils, crocus and other early bloomers are starting to peek through and the buds on my maple tree are beginning to swell reminding me that it’s time to get my spring cleaning done because planting season really is just around the corner.
Gail Vanik can be reached at 970-565-8274 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.