“SPIRIT of Spring, thy coverlet of snow
Hath fallen from thee, with its fringe of frost,
And where the river late did overflow
Sway fragile white anemones, wind-tost,
And in the woods stand snowdrops, half asleep,
With drooping heads—sweet dreamers so long lost”.
from “The Waking of Spring” by Olive Custance (b. 1874)
As the snow finally starts to melt and the temperatures begin to warm, it’s time to start to think about spring cleaning your garden. Check your inventory of garden tools and supplies. Clean your tools thoroughly and scrub off any rust that might have accumulated. You can put a light coat of mineral oil on the tools once they are clean, this will help to prevent rust build-up. Make sure the blades are all sharp and in good condition on your shears, lawn mower, weed whackers and hedge trimmers. If they need replacement or sharpening, you should be able to accomplish that at a home improvement center or garden center in the area. Lastly, make sure to check expiration dates on your garden sprays and chemicals and throw away those that are no longer useable.
After checking and cleaning your garden tools and supplies, you’ll want to begin the obvious clean-up of fallen branches and debris from the winter months. You’ll then want to remove and compost any leftover annual plants from the winter. Perennials will need to be tended to as well. As soon as you start to see new growth on the plants, you can remove any dead leaves and stalks and prune the perennials down to the ground exposing the new leaves.
Raking is an important task that will help to prevent leaf diseases in your garden. Old leaves and mulch from last year’s garden can carry mildew and spores that can infect this year’s plants and flowers. By removing old leaves and mulch from your garden, you will help ensure that your plants stay healthy and strong. However, if raking proves to be too formidable a task, another trick is to cover up the leaves with a thick layer of new mulch. Mulch will help your garden look fresh and clean and can produce a similar effect to raking in terms of preventing leaf diseases.
An important part of spring cleaning your garden is pruning. It’s always a good idea to wait until after the severe frosts to assess and prune your garden plants. You’ll want to prune plants that have old, diseased or broken stems or those that simply are growing wayward. A good pair of pruning shears is essential to get the job done right.
Spring cleaning your garden also involves maintenance tasks such as repairing any fencing around your garden area and cleaning out last year’s containers and pots. It’s a good idea to mulch any dead plants from those old pots and compost the soil. Other spring tasks include cleaning out birdhouses and feeders, checking sprinklers and thoroughly cleaning any fountains or statues of the insects, algae and parasites that may have accumulated.
By taking the time to spring clean your garden thoroughly, you’ll be ready and able to fully enjoy your gardens as they come to life!