Oh my goodness, you guys, Spring Garden Clean Up is awesome! Yep, I know I’m crazy, but I really do love it. After being cooped up indoors all winter, getting to putter and work outside is literally a breath of fresh air. The sounds of the birds chirping and nature waking up after it’s long winter sleep are just music to my ears. I get downright giddy seeing all my little plants popping up out of the soil. It’s magical and I don’t even mind the work that comes with it. Come on, I’m not the only one – what about you, do you enjoy Springtime Garden Clean Up too?
When to Start Spring Garden Cleanup
This year the spring equinox (the first day of spring) falls on March 20th. I’m in gardening zone 4b, many of you are in different gardening zones, and spring weather doesn’t always follow the calendar. It’s best for you to determine, by watching your local extended weather forecast, when spring has arrived in your area.
It’s also important to note here to not dive in to early. The leftover leaves and mulch from the fall help to protect emerging perennials and if removed too early, can subject the plants to frost or freeze damage. Perennials will recover from damage done by frost or a hard freeze, just don’t get too overzealous. Also, you don’t want to go tromping around in your garden beds and compacting damp soil.
It’s also important to note that bees and other insects hibernate in leaves and debris (depending what gardening zone you are in) and it’s best not to wake them up too soon.
Okay, let’s get out there and get things done. Eeeek, I’m so excited just writing about it!!!
Spring Garden Clean Up – Get Organized
First, let’s make a list. You can use the Garden Doodles or Garden Plans printables, from the Free Gardening Printables – Resources Library. I start my list by going through each area or flower bed, and making notes on what needs to be done. This task can be done early on when it’s still too wet or cold to actually do any work. There’s also a Spring Garden Clean Up Checklist available in the library too.
Early spring before you can actually get in your gardens, is also a great time to clean out your garden shed. Clean up and sharpen tools that you didn’t get to last fall. Are there tools that need to be replaced? Go through your gardening supplies, as well, and make a list of what you need.
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Spring To Do List For the Garden
Let’s go through each garden bed or area, one at a time:
- Cut down dead foliage and seed heads that weren’t cut back last fall.
- Pull any visible weeds or leftover dead annuals. Spring is the perfect time to get a head start on weeds.
- Clean up all debris and leaves. I go through and very lightly rake large areas. Use a leaf rake – this one is so awesome, because it’s adjustable and makes it easy to get into tight spots. I pick up leaves and debris by hand around early emerging plants and spring bulbs (like tulips and daffodils). If you’re somewhat new to gardening, you’ll learn that most perennials are fairly tough and resilient plants and raking over them lightly won’t hurt them.
- Many gardeners leave the leaves on their garden beds to break down and fortify the soil. I prefer a little more tidy look, but whether or not to rake is up to each individual gardener. It’s not going to hurt anything if you rake and it’s not going to hurt anything if you don’t.
- I save my leaves for composting. They come in really handy in the summer when everything is green and I need brown to add to the compost bin. If you don’t compost, bag up your leaves and debris and take it to your local compost site.
- Next, I survey any damage and take notes of the plants that did not make it through the winter. Just a note here, some perennials (like balloon flower (platycodon) and blanket flower (gaillardia) to name a few) are very slow to emerge in spring. I usually wait a week or two or three (depending on the weather) after my first walkabout before I decide which plants really did not survive the winter. I then compare my notes with notes I made last fall and decide what new plants I’m going to purchase, or what plants I’m going to move around.
- Before plants fill in, Spring is the perfect time to assess any damage to irrigation lines and replace or repair them. I don’t have irrigation in place in my gardens, but this spring I will be adding this simple drip irrigation system to some of my flower beds.
- Replace plant tags that are damaged, or swallowed up by the raking process. My favorite plant tags are made from old cut-up mini blinds. The aluminum ones work the best. They will bend when raked over, but won’t break. Next time you happen to be at a thrift store, keep an eye out for a cheap aluminum mini blind. I use fancier plant labels like this for my daylilies, just because my daylilies are special! Be sure to write with a good paint marker that will stand up to weather elements for a long while.
- Spring is a great time to Transplant and Divide Perennials too. The plants recover quicker from transplant shock when the temps are still relatively cool.
- Spring is also the perfect time to go through your gardening supplies and gardening tools and make lists of items you need to replace. See my preferred garden supplies and tools below.
The Best Gardening Tools and Supplies:
Spring Garden Plans
If you haven’t already taken the time to plan out new gardening projects, now is a good time to do that. If you’re relatively new to gardening, make sure to read the posts, Flower Gardening 101 and Vegetable Gardening 101. I think you’ll find both those articles helpful. If you need some spring garden ideas, or just need some Flower Garden Eye Candy, check out The Best Spring Flowers and Tips for Growing Them.
I have so many gardening ideas and projects running through my head that this is when I have to slow down and reign myself in. It just can’t all be done in one season – gardening is a process. I’m using a Garden Project Checklist that I put together that helps me focus on what I want to accomplish in my gardens. It’s available in my Free Gardening Printables Resource Library.
More Spring Gardening Tips – How to Shop for Flowers & Plants
When the gardening beds are all cleaned up, perennials are starting to emerge and the weather is cooperating, it’s time to go plant shopping. First though, make a list. I will admit that when it comes to plant shopping, I’m not always the most organized and I tend to go a little crazy. Here’s where it’s good to have a budget in mind too. And, that coming from a girl who would spend her last dollar on flowers. When I do have to keep my spending in check, I don’t even take a purse into the nursery. Really, I just carry my allotted amount of cash in my pocket and that keeps me from going crazy.
A good tip to remember when buying flowers (both annuals and perennials) is to look for plants that are full of buds, not blooms. If you purchase plants that are full of flowers with no buds, in a week or so they’ll poop out and you’ll have to wait for a new round of blooms. We have a complete article with lots of great tips on Plant Shopping.
Have you done your Spring Garden Clean Up yet? Or, are you just waiting for spring to come like I am? I just keep making plans, planting seeds indoors, potting up bulbs indoors, and dreaming of warmer, brighter days.
I would love to hear from you and love answering your gardening questions, so please leave a comment by using the form below and I’ll reply back just as soon as I can.
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