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Apr 12, 2023

Smart Spring Yard Cleanup

Smart Spring Yard Cleanup

It’s Clean-Up Season
Still, some early spring cleanup tasks are sure things this time of year. So remove the burlap from trees and shrubs as the weather warms. Prune away winter-killed branches to make room for new growth.  Cut back spent perennials and pull up old annuals if you didn’t get around to it last fall. Then look around. 

Spring Yard Cleanup Checklist
Here is a spring yard clean-up checklist to tackle to give your green patch a clean start.

Trees and Shrubs- Prune away dead and damaged branches.
Where tree or shrub branches have been damaged by cold, snow, and wind, prune back to live stems; use a handsaw for any larger than ½ inch in diameter. Shaping hedges with hand pruners, rather than electric shears, prevents a thick outer layer of growth that prohibits sunlight and air from reaching the shrub’s center.  Prune summer-flowering shrubs, such as Rose of Sharon, before buds swell, but wait to prune spring bloomers, like forsythia, until after they flower.  

Smart Spring Yard Cleanup
Where the soil has thawed, dig up perennials, such as daylilies and hostas, to thin crowded beds; divide them, leaving at least three stems per clump, and transplant them to fill in sparse areas. Cut back winter-damaged rose canes to 1 inch below the blackened area. On climbers, keep younger green canes and remove older woody ones; neaten them by bending them horizontally and tipping the buds downward. Use jute twine or gentle Velcro fasteners to hold the canes in place. A pair of sharp bypass pruners make a clean cut on both dead and living foliage.

Beds and Borders- Clean Up Around Plants
Next on the spring yard clean-up checklist, rake out fallen leaves and dead foliage (which can smother plants and foster disease), pull up spent annuals, and toss them in a wheelbarrow with other organic yard waste. Once the threat of frost has passed, remove existing mulch to set the stage for a new layer once spring planting is done.

Push heaved plants back into flower beds and borders, tamping them down around the base with your foot, or use a shovel to replant them. Now is an excellent time to spread a pelletized fertilizer tailored to existing plantings on the soil’s surface so that spring rains can carry it to the roots.

Add a 5-10-10 fertilizer around bulbs as soon as they flower to maximize bloom time and feed the next season’s growth. Use pins to fasten drip irrigation lines that have come loose and a square-head shovel to give beds a clean edge and keep turf grass from growing into them.
Lawn Carts | Wheelbarrows
Plants, Bulbs & Seeds Products

 Compost Yard Waste.
Dump collected leaves, cuttings, spent foliage, and last season’s mulch into your compost pile, or make a simple corral by joining wire fence sections (available at home centers) into a 3-by-3-by-3-foot cube like the one above.
Shred leaves and chip branches larger than ½ inch in diameter to accelerate decomposition, or add a bagged compost starter to the pile. Keep the pile as moist as a wrung-out sponge, and aerate it with a pitchfork every two weeks. Don’t add any early spring weeds that have gone to seed—they might not cook entirely and could sprout instead.
Lawn Care

Prep Damaged Lawn Areas for Spring Seeding.
In colder climates, the grass starts growing in April, but early spring is an excellent time to test the soil’s pH so that you can assemble the proper amendments. Remove turf damaged by salt, plows, or disease to prepare for the seeding that should follow in a few weeks.
Work in a ½-inch layer of compost to keep the new seed moist, increasing the germination rate. Begin seeding once forsythia starts blooming in your area. In warmer climates, April is an excellent time to add the first dose of fertilizer and crabgrass treatment. Remove dead turf with a square metal rake, then flip it over to spread compost.
Paths and Patios

Neaten Up Hardscape Surfaces.
Rake escaped gravel back into aggregate walkways and patios and order more stone to spread in large depressions, which often form near the driveway’s apron. Refill joints between flagstones by sweeping in new sand or stone dust; water with a hose to set it, then repeat. If the freeze-thaw cycle has heaved pavers out of place, remove them and replenish the base material before setting them back in.  Use a pressure washer with a low-pressure tip to remove slippery algae spots or leaf stains from patios and walkways.

Patch or replace and paint worn wood.
Remove badly rotted or damaged pickets, boards, or lattices, then clean wood structures with 2 gallons of water, 2 quarts bleach, and 1 cup liquid soap; let dry. Patch rotted sections with wood epoxy; install new wood as needed.  Check wobbly fence posts to see if they need replacing (find the how-to at Scrape off old paint, sand the wood with 60 grit to prep for a new finish coat once temperatures exceed 50° F, and brush on fresh paint or stain.

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