From the Desk of Ed Hume: Spring Garden Clean-Up

March 7, 2011 at 1:59 AM Leave a comment

As I walked through the garden this morning I couldn’t believe all the things I saw that needed to be done.  I don’t know about you, but I guess I didn’t get as many things accomplished last fall as I thought.  I’m going to blame the crummy weather!  My walkabout revealed the need to trim some of our grasses, the dead leaves on some perennials, and the need to get after quite a few weeds that survived the winter, plus other odds and ends.

Here in South Hill, Puyallup, Washington where we live, the winter has been pretty hard on a few plants, so there is a need to do some pruning, shaping, and even removing of a couple of plants that didn’t make it.  So let’s discuss how we go about doing our spring clean up!

First, examine last year’s dead foliage on perennials.  It may have offered some winter protection to the parent plant, but now it looks ugly and may be impeding new growth from developing.  Take a few seconds and cut off all that old dead foliage.  You can add it to the compost pile or send it away in the recycle bin.  Looks better already, doesn’t it?

Next, let’s take a look at the ornamental grasses.  Some are evergreen,so we don’t want to cut them back, but those that are perennial grasses have all that ugly yellow dead grass laying on the ground or swaying in the breeze.  Again, a few seconds or minutes and a sharp pair of pruning shears and you can clean up that eyesore.

Take a look at the broadleaf evergreens! Some have brown leaves, wilted yellow leaves, or even black foliage.  What should we do?  The simply answer is nothing, it’s too early.  Wait for warmer weather and for the new growth to begin.  Then we can determine if there is any damage, and if so, where the damage has occurred.  At that point, we’ll know whether we even need to do any pruning or shaping.  Remember: Even though a plant may look dead, don’t dig it up and throw it away.  The top may appear dead, but it may not be, or the roots may still be alive and it is apt to come back with a vengeance.

Finally, the weeds.   Can you believe how many of the different species have already flowered and are now setting seed?  In fact, some have already gone to seed and the weed is dying.  If we don’t grub out these weeds and eliminate them, we’ll be fighting them for years to come.   Examine the lawn too, as there may be a few weeds there as well!  Once you eliminate the weeds in your flower and shrub beds, you may want to spread some mulch over the soil to help discourage future weed growth.

If you need to do some last minute pruning on your fruit, flowering, or shade trees, do it right away as it’s getting late for that type of pruning.

What you do now will not only improve the appearance of the garden, but will help cut down on maintenance the rest of the season.

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Clip of the Week: Pruning Evergreens Ed’s Podcasts: Spring Lawns

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