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Spring Garden Clean Up

Remember the Mess is Best & Mess is Best Part 2 shared last fall with the reasons why to leave dead plant stalks and leaves in your gardens and flowerbeds? Now that Spring has sprung, if you left the "mess" in your gardens, you are probably ready to clear them out and discover what is happening beneath them!

Spring Garden Clean up

There are good reasons to wait until temperatures consistently reach 50° before doing so though. Until then, many beneficial insects like native bees, butterflies, and lady bugs may not yet have emerged from their winter resting places inside hollow plant stems and woody branches. On nights and spring days when temperatures are cooler, leaf litter serves as insulation for new plants emerging from soil. Sticks, stems and wispy blades of ornamental grass are perfect materials for birds to use to build their nests.

Some tips for spring garden clean-up when the temperatures do consistently reach 50°, typically around April 1st in our area, include:

  • Gently brush back leaves in flower beds and vegetable gardens to protect the new growth of perennials emerging from the soil. Move them to a corner of the garden and leave undisturbed for a bit longer.
  • Remove dead growth from perennials, like ornamental grasses and hostas, gently so that the roots are left in the ground. 
  • Add woody plant stems to a compost pile gently so that any insects still resting inside can make their way out when they are ready.
  • Mulch in mid- to late spring. Waiting will give the soil time to warm up.
  • Pruning shrubs helps trigger new growth, but wait to prune spring blooming shrubs until after they've finished blooming.

What other tips are part of your spring garden clean-up routine?