Tips for Spring Garden Clean Up

I'm a spring cleaner-upper (vs. a fall one...) for a number of reasons: 1) In the fall I'm usually too busy with preserving the harvest to attempt any clean up; 2) most plants survive winter better with the cover of the previous season; 3)birds eat the seeds of the dried flowers; 4) and roses and plants need spring pruning anyway. But mostly it's because I've lost my desire to be in the garden come November, lol!
So March and April are all about cleaning up, pruning, and catching those weeds before they become established. Here are my tips for spring cleaning flower beds:
1. Start with the tallest, most overgrown plants first. In this case, the roses and clematis. I cut all of them down to about 2-3 feet. The roses are shrub varieties and we have such a problem with black spot here that I find it's best just to cut the roses back hard. They flower later, but tend to be much healthier (at least in the beginning of the season...sigh). These clematis grow many feet every year, so I cut them back to keep them sized for the trellises. They are obviously the kind you prune in spring, but honestly I've never been able to keep the different types of clematis straight.
2. Prune evergreens if needed. Pruning and shaping will be easiest now, before the perennials grow bigger and make reaching the evergreens more difficult.
3. Moving from one side of the bed to the other, pull weeds and cut off any dead plant parts.
4. Take the time to prune or cut back any existing perennials (see specific examples below).
5. Edge the bed, if needed. If it's a grass border, it will always be needed. At least if you live in the Pacific NW.
6. Lay down newspaper and cover with a mulch of compost or bark.
How are you getting your garden ready for the new season?
Spring cleaning for the garden: this 6x20-ft bed took about 1 1/2-hrs - and what a great feeling to see it ready for the new season!
The roses and clematis are pruned hard - in our Pac. NW climate it's always a fight with mildew and blackspot, so I find a hard pruning helps stave it off a bit at least.
Moonbeam Coreopsis before clean up and after, which included removing geranium seedlings trying to bully their way in.
Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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 1 comment
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Mar 14, 2013
    Great tips, Jami. You're absolutely right about it being better for the plants to delay many of these things until spring.