really rake them over
Your rake is the go-to tool for spring cleaning. For ground cover perennials that spread quickly, like lamb’s ear, the fastest cleanup is a vigorous once-over with a rake. (Use a bamboo rake or a springy metal leaf rake, not a heavy, rigid garden rake.) It’ll get rid of dead leaves and stems without damaging plant crowns, and these perennials will relish extra air and light.
This is a simple technique — just get that rake in there and go to work. How much is enough? Well, you don’t have to get every single bit of old foliage or stem. And it’s OK to yank out an occasional new shoot, but you don’t want to start seeing bald patches. Once you get that dead stuff out, stand back! These plants fill in quickly, and in a few weeks your plants will look like those in the inset.
Do keep in mind that this technique doesn’t work so well for vining ground covers like vinca. Stems will tangle around the rake, and you’ll pull out too much new growth. Here are some plants that like a strong hand on the rake:
Bugleweed Ajuga reptans Dalmatian bellflower Campanula portenschlagiana Lamb’s ear Stachys byzantina (in photo) Lily-of-the-valley Convallaria majalis Ribbon grass Phalaris arundinacea
For more great garden tips and solutions, see our book Easy Weekend Garden Solutions.