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Great Gardens Blog

Spring Garden Cleanup

Prepare the Way

Spring garden cleanup can be one of the most satisfying parts of any home landscaper’s journey. After a long winter and an early brown spring, we are ready to shed the ‘ugh’ and tidy up outside! While it’s often a little brisk outside, once you get moving in the garden, you’ll forget all about those cooler temps.

A sunny, dry day is just the ticket. Here are a few ideas to get your yard freshened up this spring!

Photo of Anne In Garden

Prevent Weeds
Apply Preen to your gardens.
Preen is a weed inhibitor and a sprinkle of that will be the beginning of preventing seeds from germinating and you don’t want weed seeds to germinate in your garden! It doesn’t discriminate, however, so don’t apply that were you want to start new grass seed!

Spread a fresh layer of mulch.
Don’t be skimpy when applying shredded bark. A solid 3” layer is best to smother out unwanted growth between plants. Did you know that we DO NOT recommend applying weed barrier fabric under bark mulches? That’s a method of the past that is not successful. Weed seeds can still blow in, on top of the fabric, which defeats the purpose. Also, bark tends to wash off the fabric on slopes, which exposes the unsightly stuff. The best option is to apply shredded bark, right to the soil surface. It meshes together and holds tight on most slopes too! When that decomposes to a finer texture over a couple of years, it simply becomes soil and you then reapply the mulch. Fabric is necessary under rock cover, so it does have it’s place of use.

We carry mulch in three stained colors.
Chocolate looks the most like soil, so it’s our top designer’s choice. There are also Gold and Red, if you want to stand out. Our natural shredded mulch is a lovely brown when applied, but do note that it will fade to grey within the season. That’s fine too, because it’s still serving the purpose it was intended for. Take your pick! We can delivery bulk mulch right to your driveway!

Patch up that Lawn
Grass Seed application is another great task for spring weather, this is a good time to patch up bad areas in your lawn or over-seed the entire lawn. Use 3-5# per 1,000 SF. We offer seed by the pound or in 25 pound bags. If you need to patch various spot in your lawn, add a fresh layer of soil, add the grass seed and then rake it around to nestle the seed into the fresh soil. April weather is great for germination, since the temps are not hot and the moisture is plentiful. Top the area with shaken straw, erosion control mat or turf starter pellets. We carry all of these items and the seed too!

Picking out the best seed is the key to success.
If you have a sunny area, all of our quality seed mixes will work. If you have a shady area, you MUST select the shady seed variety, which has more fescues and less bluegrass in the mix. This shady seed works great in sandy soils too! It can grow in both sun and shade. We sell grass seed by the pound and in 25 pound bags. You will want 3-5# per 1,000 SF of space, so it doesn’t take much. If you have moss, it must be removed, prior to or during the seeding process. It will not allow new grass to take hold. It’s either the grass or the moss; you’ve got to pick between the two. We do offer a couple of products to get rid of the moss too. It’ll fight to come back in shady areas, so you’ll need to keep applying the Moss Max if that’s your goal.

Watch this video of Anne Matzek taking on her own spring yard clean-up!

Pruning and Cutting Back Tips

  • Cut back Russian Sage ½ way. Not all of the way, like most perennials.
  • Do not cut back Heuchera (aka Coral Bells). Only tug off the crispiest of leaves or leave as it is.
  • Cut back Endless Summer Hydrangeas only ½ way. It’s best to see where they bud from. After you see growing buds, you can trim back any tips that will not grow.
  • Cut off the dried Hydrangea blossoms from last year.
  • Do not do any shearing or deep pruning on Forsythia shrubs, Bridal Wreath Spirea, Lilacs or other early spring blooming shrubs. You’d be cutting off the pretty flower buds that are about to burst! Prune those after they’re done blooming and then leave alone until the same time, next year.
  • Shrubs that you can cut WAY back include: Spriea (summer blooming varieties, not spring bloomers), Dogwood, Burning bush, Viburnum, Ninebark, Willow & Hydrangeas (hydrangea arborescens, smooth hydrangeas, and hydrangea paniculata (PeeGee types) hydrangeas. These types of hydrangeas bloom on new wood. Examples: Little Lime, Quick Fire, Vanilla Sundae, Strawberry Vanilla, Incrediball, etc. ).
    Do not be afraid. Sometimes these shrubs need a deep pruning to keep them appropriate for your space.
  • Do not do deep pruning on evergreen shrubs. Most require careful pruning of current year’s growth only or hand pruning out various branches. If you shave the entire shrub, deeply, it may not recover, which is the case for Junipers, Yews, Pines & Spruce.

I wish you all the best this spring and look forward to gardening together! Landscape Designer, Anne Matzek

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