Spring can be unpredictable. Even the old adage that “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” can seem amusing and quaint in light of the cold snaps interspersed with summer-like days, late-season snowstorms, rain and thunderstorms, followed by the inevitable flooding. All of that conspires to make it challenging to determine the best time to plant, prune, garden or even bother picking up leaves and broken branches.
Spring landscape maintenance can be tricky. Do it too soon and you risk losing your plantings to late frost. Too late and you’ve got a tangle of old and new growth that will make cleanup a real chore. But it’s got to be done and there’s plenty you can do now and over time to get your landscape ready for a season of great outdoor living.
These are some of the aspects of your landscape that you can shower with a little TLC so you can get your outdoor space looking good, and ready to enjoy.
Décor, Furniture And Other “Stuff”
Ever look around your living room and wonder where all that “stuff” came from? Half of it collects dust, some of it gets dropped there and left far from its home. Then spring cleaning comes along and you do a mad sweep to de-clutter and get organized.
The same kind of clutter can happen to your yard. Planters cracked from a tough winter, furniture that has seen better days, that sad little garden gnome you couldn’t part with last year, but now that it’s lost a nose, maybe the time has come…
Displaced paving stones that got stacked in a corner but never disposed of. The rake that some unnamed person never put back into the shed, so now it’s rusted and bent. The pile of cut firewood that served you well but has been collecting leaves and debris all winter and now looks like it belongs in a Little House on the Prairie novel.
Do a spring cleaning sweep of your yard just as you would indoors. Trash, donate, or even sell anything that you don’t want or need anymore. Get rid of the broken, the old, the less-than-stellar. Demand that the rakes and bikes get put back into sheds. In short, treat your outdoor space as the living room that it is – albeit one without walls or a roof!
It’s time for the old, faded and unloved to go so you can make room for the garden décor, bubblers, seating, planters and other elements that bring a spark to your landscape and a smile to your face.
Flowers & Gardens
Garden cleanup is exactly the chore it sounds like. Grab your gloves because you’ll need to pull weeds, cut back or dig out dead plants, rake out leaves, remove fallen twigs and branches, and remove or set stones back where they belong.
All you need is enough elbow grease to get your space cleaned up and eliminate the signs of a long winter.
While you’re at it, remember that a naturalistic landscape isn’t the Gardens of Versailles. You don’t need to eliminate every last leaf and stray stone. In fact, those things can artfully become part of the design and charm of your landscape. Instead of discarding stones, use them strategically to add texture and interest to your gardens. Keep an interesting-looking branch as a bit of décor, or a bundle of them to use in a new porch planter.
Once you’ve cleaned up, you can spruce up flower beds and gardens with new plantings and a fresh layer of mulch. There are plenty of early-blooming perennials that will add color and life to your landscape even when the temperature isn’t feeling especially springy. Pansies thrive particularly well in colder weather and can even survive a frost.
If needed, it’s time to re-edge those beds, too. Whether bits have come loose or you’re just going for a new look, you can add borders and edges in myriad styles, from natural stone to laid brick to reclaimed wood and bamboo.
Grasses, Trees & Shrubs
You won’t be replacing them every year like you may be with your garden beds, but they could certainly do with some attention. Snow, ice and wind can be brutal on delicate branches, so it’s time to cut back and remove any dead or damaged ones.
Woody perennials, somewhere structurally between flowers and shrubs, need to be cut back in spring since new blooms only appear on new branches. If you see buds forming on the lower stems, it’s time to cut back those old ones.
Evergreens may need some pruning, too. You may not be going for the boxy, formal look but you don’t want messy, disheveled greenery, either.
But beware pruning spring blooming trees. Buds are set the prior fall, so pruning them in spring means you’ll be pruning off this season’s flowers. A heartbreaking prospect, indeed!
The same goes for other early flowering shrubs like forsythia. Let them flower first, and prune later.
If you’ve left dormant ornamental grasses for winter interest (and if you haven’t, then make a note to make this year to start!), spring is the time to cut them back and let new growth sprout up.
A little bit of attention with an eye for encouraging growth will go a long way to preparing your existing landscaping for a new season.
Ponds & Water Features
Bring back the fountains, start the bubblers, and get your pond and fish ready for spring, too. Spring pond maintenance is a mini-project unto itself, so if you have one, prepare your buckets and water clarifiers!
Depending on how rough the winter was on your pond, you may need to do a full drain and cleanup. In that case, you’ll need to carefully remove fish, drain the water (without flooding out the rest of your yard), scrub surfaces, remove sludge, check equipment, and perform many of the same trimming, pruning and replanting tasks you performed for your land-based gardens.
Do that, and you’ll be rewarded with healthy, clear water and a self-sustaining ecosystem all season and all summer long.
And do try not to wait too long for pond cleanup. As the temperature warms up, debris like leaves and other organic matter will start to decompose more quickly, adding excess nutrients to water and turning it dark, cloudy and susceptible to algae. That’s bad for your ecosystem, bad for fish, and bad for your enjoyment.
If you’re itching to get outside, just waiting for that first balmy day to enjoy the new blooms and new life that spring brings, then start your spring landscape maintenance early. You can perform different maintenance tasks at different times, so it’s a good idea to have a regular maintenance schedule. Neaten up, trim, and clean as soon as the weather allows you to swap winter mittens for garden gloves. Add new perennials when the danger of frost has passed. Trim blooming trees later, and let your landscape evolve through its unique delights throughout each season.
If you’re looking for professional cleanup to prepare your landscape for spring, or even to open and prep your pond, let us know. We can provide seasonal service as needed, or determine a regular maintenance schedule that will suit your needs.