Spring cleanup - that time of year!

terrene(5b MA)April 5, 2013

Up here in the middle of New England, spring has been a bit late getting going, but the snow has finally pretty much melted - except for big piles, or the shadiest spots. Finally feels like Spring is here and it's my favorite season and it's exhilarating!

So I started Spring garden clean up this week. I do some clean up in the fall, but leave a lot to the Spring so there are perennials to trim back, shrubs to prune, and raking to do. The ornamental grasses need to be cut down, and then edging and weeding and mulching and burning, and you name it!

Gosh it seems EVERY Spring I think "Wow this cleanup is a lot of work" and "Wow the gardens are big" and even "Maybe I have too many gardens?". Maybe I do have too many gardens, but it doesn't feel like it any other time of the year, and I keep creating more anyway, lol!

So how's your Spring cleanup going??

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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I haven't done a thing so far because:

(a) it's been too cold to risk exposing new growth by clearing away the sheltering debris of last year's dead foliage and:

(b) I broke my left leg in November and have only got permission from the doctor on Monday this week to start full weight-bearing on it! DH will have to do most of the work (under my close supervision!) this spring as it's likely going to be mid-late May before it's safe for me to be back in full gardening mode :-( I'm more that a little stir-crazy at the moment!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 8:34PM
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BlueBirdPeony(5b NE Ohio)

You sound like me! We did some clean up this afternoon and tomorrow will be doing a lot more. I am learning a lot about our new house. We bought from a perennial lover. Take a look at this one. I'm not even sure what it is, but it's clearly becoming invasive. No idea how to clean this one up!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 8:35PM
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BlueBirdPeony - That looks like snow-in-summer, Cerastium tomentosum. I found that it spreads a bit, and also that it spent part of the year looking a bit battered. It's a spring bloomer, so I don't think that you want to trim it back now, but I have the feeling that it would look better if it was trimmed after it blooms.

Terrene - I've been starting cleanup this week, removing the dead foliage of my few ornamental grasses, and raking the gravel from the driveway that the plow moved into the lawn. Mostly, though, things are still too wet and in many areas still a bit frozen down a couple of inches, so I haven't done a whole lot yet.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 9:50PM
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BlueBirdPeony(5b NE Ohio)

Babs do you just pull by hand? Or spade it out? It looks like it's even growing in my pine bush. It's not very deep rooted. Actually I could probably prune it with shears. I will wait until after blooming though. It did look a bit haggard by mid summer last year.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 4:32PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I'm not even sure what it is, but it's clearly becoming invasive

==>>> invasive is s term of art .... meaning certain things ... of which.. not what you mean ..

anyway.. i would surmise.. that the prior owner spent 10 years perfecting that space.. and for some reason.. you want to destroy it ... and that is surely w/in your ability ..

but may i suggest.. you spend a year.. 'seeing' what you have.. before you just decide something is wrong ...

it does not.. look like SnowITS to me.. based on this pic.. you would need a closeup.. but if it is.. when its a carpet of pure white flowers.. you might understand its beauty ....

looks much more like a sedum ... which will not have a white flower ...

when the rest of that bed greens up.. the blueish cast of this GROUNDCOVER.. might be sublime...

kill it if you want.. but there is always next year.. or fall ...


    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 5:40PM
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BlueBirdPeony(5b NE Ohio)

Here is a pic in bloom. The only one I have unfortunately. You can just see it behind the peonies. My loose memory is that it bloomed pink and went white...or white then pink? I am fairly certain that it changed color in one direction or the other.
It's growing inside the pine bush, so I would say that at a minimum, it "doesn't play well with others."

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 6:37PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Terrene, we do the same thing you do, leaving it all until the spring. Normally, spring clean up is well underway by this time, but we've delayed due to the weather. I have done a little. Two raised beds adjacent to a mulched sitting area got the full treatment, shrubs pruned, old foliage cut back, weeds pulled out of the moss, and DH added a new layer of mulch to the sitting area.

We have three quarters of the pruning done on shrubs. That's it. I went out to start on my front bed on Saturday morning and came back in the house 10 minutes later. It was freezing! And the wind was really howling. I really do love being outdoors regardless of the weather, but lately I've noticed the weather doesn't love me back. If I get cold it takes hot socks and a few hours to warm up. (g) I miss my old rugged self.

I've been distracting myself with plenty of other things that need doing around the house. We have three family birthdays in March and that takes a lot of attention. And I've been replacing old worn out dinnerware and flatware. We have painting to do, but we're waiting for temps to stay above 50.

This week, regardless, I'm getting a lot more done outside. I plan on getting out there every day and start with finishing all the pruning, then I just have to get that front bed finished, because it's such a mess. Some teens in an adjacent neighborhood, pulled up our rocks along the street that border the bed and dropped them on the neighbor's lawn next door over the winter. Thankfully, we recovered them, but now they have to be repositioned. And some of the raised wood vegetable beds need attention this year. I have found myself shaking my head at the amount of work it takes to keep a garden going. Just when you think you've gotten a little caught up, think again.

Woody, I'm glad you are able to finally do full weight bearing. That has to be a relief. Such a long winter for you! If the weather would cooperate, I'm sure just seeing DH get the work done and supervising, will make you feel a lot better.

BlueBirdPeony, I have had Snow in Summer for the past two years and I'm still evaluating whether I want to keep it or not. I do love how it looks in bloom and I'm trying it in a few locations. Looking at your photo, it does look like it to me, and not the sedum. But I also think that the previous owner deliberately planned it to be there. Growing under that tall evergreen on the left of your photo, may be an area that is difficult to grow in and perhaps that plant was a solution the previous owner finally discovered. Also, Snow in Summer is at it's most effective when it is in large drifts. The best application I ever saw was covering a sloping front lawn mixed together with thymes and other plants. It was gorgeous. But, you are the one that has to love it. I would just suggest that if you decide to pull it out, you try pulling out the areas that you feel it shouldn't be but leave a smaller area of it for a season to see if you still want to remove the rest. And secondly, I would plan precisely what other plants I was going to replace it with and whether they would grow in that location, before pulling it out. It couldn't be easier to remove.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 2:16AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Can I be a little smug and say I'm done with spring cleanup? I was so anxious to get out there I spent most of the Easter weekend out in the yard. It wasn't warm but it was dry and snow free which is good enough for me. If I wait too long I end up damaging the spring bulb sprouts and it takes forever tiptoeing between the perennial shoots.
I do remember sitting down a couple times and thinking to myself "wow this is a ton of work", but I really don't do much cleanup other than ripping up annuals and leaf mulching in the fall, so pretty much everything was still around. I hate the wind too. Must be getting older and I'm not crazy about that either.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 7:10PM
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I am having the winter that will not end- last year I was completely done with my spring clean-up my March 15th and now, this year, I am barely 20% done in the middle of April.

Most of my clean-up is weeding- when I start it is so daunting that I too think I have far too many beds. But I start at the beginning and go one weed at a time and eventually do finish, but boy that is a day I ( and my aging back) celebrate.

Mine is a relatively new garden (moved here in '07) so not too much pruning- mostly shaping to direct growth. But I love pruning and would far rather do that then pull weeds. I try and alternate standing and squatting activities so I can stay mobile :)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 8:54AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I haven't even started. It's been too cold and rainy. The ground is so wet, you sink in any where you walk, not just in the beds. The moles have decided I really wasn't meant to have a lawn, apparently. I'm considering planting yet another shade tree and turning everything into ephemerals and ferns. That way I could let the moles do their thing and not worry about the lawn. I have about 20 old oaks that drop limbs and twigs of varying sizes all winter long, so those need to be picked up. The acorns are a constant challenge. The previous owners had some landscaping done to make the place look good, and now those shrubs have out grown their spots. They have nothing to contribute to wildlife, so I'll probably dig them out. I've also got large beds of Lily of the Valley, English ivy, Lamium, and vinca minor that I need to keep digging at. Last spring and fall I made some headway in one of the large beds, and I hope to continue to work at that. I would use chemicals, but there are quite a few Solomon's Seal scattered through the bed that I want to preserve. I already rescued a bunch of Trillium, assuming they survived the transplant.

But, I can't do any thing until the rain and snow stop. I have the second week of May for vacation, and my plan is to spend every minute in the yard. I hope the weather cooperates by then. Good luck to all.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 9:30AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

Not a thing is done. Zip, nothing....
Last year I was well into digging and dividing. Everything was cleaned up. My raised bed veggie garden had been planted 2 weeks earlier with lettuce, spinach, radish, sweet peas.


I don''t think I'll be cleaning the pond today.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 9:45AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

On the one nice day, high temp of 56F, last week I cut back all my ornamental grasses. The ground was still frozen and none of the daffodils in the beds were up yet so it was a good time to get that done. By nightfall we had rain and this week, as Kevin's photo shows, we are covered with snow again. Not expecting any 50s for at least another week. I do most of my cleanup in the fall but mulch heavily with shredded leaves and need to pull back and/or lift it before new growth begins. Some of the grasses had new green blades. A few bulbs close to the house on the east side are up with frost bitten leaves.

After living in St. Louis for eight years I often lament that spring is so late in MN and not really very springlike until mid May. Guess those low expectations help me tolerate this extra late spring.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 3:21PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Doing more clean up as I have time. It's still cold and windy more of the time than not, but at least it's not near freezing. The daffodils opened up in the past week and the crocus are gone by. Many perennials are showing growth, but not as exuberant growth as past seasons. I still think it is the lack of rainfall.

But today, is the day after almost an inch of rain, and everything looks refreshed. I did clean up in an area where I had California Poppies and Alyssum today and I was so excited to see many many seedlings of both! I love that! Makes me want to grow more biennials and perennials that reseed.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 3:54PM
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I leave it all for the spring because I believe the natural mulch is good and also because I am very lazy. Also, it is much easier to do in the spring because the snow has matted most everything down. In most of the beds, I do very little raking and leave the dead stuff to decompose. It looks pretty messy this way but once everything comes up, you can't see my laziness.

I still have to clip back the dead sedum 'autumn joy' which I use as a border around a lot of areas and other 'sticks' of plants that don't mash down in the snow. Then, I just leave the sticks and brush where they are clipped.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 4:54PM
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molie(z6 CT)

This has been a slow-to-warm spring for most of us. I don't keep a gardening notebooks with dates, but I'm sure the garden was further along last year. One thing I'm planning to do next fall to help with the spring "blahs" is to put in more early bulbs. I wonder ----will these late springs become a "pattern"?

I have so much weeding and edging to do. Although we have an electric edger, I prefer using my flat garden shovel. I'm kind of a stickler about a nice sharp edge to the garden ---- just like the look and the fact that my DH can't decapitate any plants as he mows or trims when there's a clear edge in his way.

Here along the coast, we also have a great deal of wind that comes up the river and that holds me back. Or is it old age? :) Rain is surely needed in our area, too. The dirt I managed to turn over in the front was powdery.

Funny how all of us, no matter where we are, just "itch" to get out in the spring. I have a friend that just moved to Florida. Though I often moan and groan about our NE weather, I don't think I'd enjoy living without four distinct seasons.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 5:03PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Well here it is 10 days later, and I'm STILL working on garden cleanup. It's mixed with pruning shrubbery and some transplanting, but still going slow. Got the front yard gardens done, now I'm working on the back. Try to go out for at least an hour or two a day and prune, chop, rake, pull, and pick up. Drag another tarp of leaves and garden debris, or drag another pile of brush. It's great exercise but the body's getting older, gotta take it slower than when I was younger.

Sorry to hear about those who still have snow. Ugh. Woodyoak, hope your leg heals soon. Bluebird, I like your peony picture. PM2, that is funny that the teenagers moved your rocks, usually it's the snow plow that has moved stuff around!

Docmom, I had tons of Vinca on this lot and have gotten rid of a lot of it every which way. Smothering works very well and is the easiest way, but if you have plants you want to save amongst the Vinca you would have to dig them out first, because smothering will kill everything.

Smothering might work on that white snow in the summer. Or you could offer it free on Craigslist and people will come dig it up for you!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 1:20PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Yup 10 days later and I still have snow covering most of my beds. At least today we're getting peeks of sun and for now no snow, sleet, or freezing rain is falling from the sky so that's a good thing. Our high temp today hit 40. At least we didn't get the 18" they got in the Fargo, ND area.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 5:16PM
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