6. Clean Up Leaves and Weeds - Only When It's Warm Enough!
We encourage gardeners to leave healthy plants like ornamental grasses and native flowers to stand over the winter, for both visual interest as well as food and habitat for pollinators and wildlife. In the cooler days of spring, many pollinators will still be hibernating.
Typically, it's safe to start cleaning up leaves when daytime temperatures are consistently in the 50s F.
When spring comes, you can cut back grasses and herbaceous perennials, leaving a few inches of stem above the ground, to make room for healthy new growth. You can also remove spent annuals that may be leftover from the previous season.
It's important to pull weeds early and often, to make sure they don't take over or steal valuable nutrients and water from your garden plants. Leaves can decompose and add organic matter to your soil, but if the layers are too thick, they may inhibit growth from new plants.
7. Prune and Cut Back
Lavender, Butterfly Bush, Artemisia, and other woody perennials and shrubs that bloom on new branches should be cut back in the early spring. Make sure to wait until there is no more chance of a hard frost before you take this step. Evergreen or semi-evergreen perennials, such as Bearded Iris, can be cleaned up and trimmed back to help encourage new, healthy growth.
8. Divide and Transplant
If you didn’t get to this in the fall, divide and re-plant perennials such as Daylilies, Hostas, Bearded Iris, Ornamental Grasses, and Black Eyed Susan in the early spring, as soon as green stems emerge. This will help them stay healthy, continue growing, and help you expand your garden! (Or you can share with some lucky gardening friends.)
Learn More: Dividing and Moving Plants In Early Spring
9. Stake or Support Plants
Make sure to support your Dahlias, Peonies, Asters, Foxgloves, and other plants that have heavy flowers or tall, willowy blooms as needed in the early spring. Staking them early will be much easier than when foalige and blooms are in full swing.
Metal ‘peony rings’ offer an adjustable height and allow flowers and foliage to grow up through the supports. Tomato cages can work, too. You can also make your own support system, using garden twine and metal or bamboo stakes.
Learn More: How To Grow Peonies and How To Grow Dahlias
10. Add New Plants
With all of this early spring preparation out of the way, the next step is the most fun: add new perennial plants, bulbs, and wildflowers to your garden!