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Spring garden cleanup tips

By: Garden Gate staff
Make your garden better this year with these three early spring garden chores.


Cut back evergreen ground covers

Lilyturf (Liriope muscari) has grassy foliage that doesn’t die back in winter in most areas. But even if it’s evergreen, sometimes it looks ratty by spring. Should you trim yours, and if so, when? In northern zones where it can look brown and shabby in late winter, rake out dead foliage in early spring. Use scissors or hedge shears to cut back 2⁄3 of the old growth, as in the photo. In the South, use a lawn mower set high enough that it won’t shave off the plant’s crown and mow large plantings each year before new growth begins.


Clean out nesting boxes

Early spring is a good time to remove old nesting materials from birdhouses before your winged friends return to lay eggs. If the birdhouse is convertible to a winter roosting box like this one, take the perch ladder out and turn the door around so the hole is at the top, as well.

Open the box, scoop the old nest into a plastic bag and send it to the trash so leftover insect or disease pests can’t harm new chicks. Use a plastic brush to scrub out any mud or moldy debris. Spray the inside with a 1 part bleach, 9 parts water solution to disinfect, then rinse thoroughly with plain water. Leave the birdhouse open until it is completely dry. Then close it up and watch for new birds to arrive!


Remove mulch

If you’ve piled extra mulch around marginally hardy perennials and shrubs to help them overwinter, you’ll need to remove it in spring. When days get longer and air temps consistently rise above freezing during the day, start pulling back mulch in 1-in. layers, about once a week. This will allow the soil to warm gradually underneath, preventing the plant from sprouting too soon and getting nipped off by a cold snap.

Published: Feb. 28, 2018
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