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Spring Cleaning in the Garden

SpringToolsSpring cleaning applies to the garden in the same way that it applies to your home! Even the rain showers during the spring help to clean up the walkways and wash away those last traces of winter. But there are a few things you can do to help nature along with its spring cleaning chores.

Check these garden clean-up tips out for a healthier, happier garden.

Clean Up And Prune Those Shrubs

  • Remove dead, diseased and crossed branches by pruning bushes and small trees. To shape, cut the longest, awkward stems. Always clip just above an outward facing bud.
  • If you have an old shrub that’s getting too big or too woody, remove a third of the oldest stems from the base of the plant to allow sunlight into the middle.

Note: If the shrub flowers in the spring, (before mid-June), prune it after it blooms. If it flowers late in the season, (after mid-June), prune it early in the spring.

Clean Garden Beds

  • Matted leaves can smother emerging plants. Remove clumps of leaves by hand being careful not to damage new sprouts.
  • Pull out annals left from last year and place in your compost pile (or at the back of the garden where they can compost on their own.)
  • Pull the weeds and discard with the city leaf collection (so they don’t contaminate your garden!)
  • For perennials, remove what’s left of last year’s top growth including seed heads. This is the time to move perennials, divide and make more, or give away extras to neighbours.
  • Clean up balcony planters and containers
  • Remove all plant debris from last fall and ideally replace the top 1/3 of the soil with new container soil for this year’s plants.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses as soon as you see signs of new growth.
  • If you had issues last year with plants not thriving, this is the time to empty the pots and clean them well. Make sure you’ve got proper drainage and container soil.

Clean Out the Shed & Storage Bench

  • On a warm spring day, open up your garden shed (or garden storage area) and do a thorough sorting and cleaning.
  • Fix broken tools and make a note of anything that needs replacing. After all, it is also yard sale season!
  • Clean trowels, garden gloves, and garden ornaments.  Clean off rust with a rust removal. Spruce up metal tools and garden furniture with a fresh coat of rust proof paint.

Clean up & Feed Your Soil

  • Remove plants that have powdery mildew and discard in the garbage (not the compost).
  • Top dress soil with compost, shredded or composted leaves or well-rotted manure.

Dream and Plan

  • Now is when you want to plan your garden so when plants show up in every corner store and garden centre, you know exactly what you want to buy. Visit a garden centre before the rush in later May and talk with experts.

With thanks from Toronto Master Gardeners