Garden Clean Up Tips

Garden & Landscape Clean Up Hints and Tips


  • Hand rake lawns to remove debris and encourage air movement in roots (usually no need to power de-thatch)
  • Top dress with uneven spots with top soil and/or peat moss. Reseed bare spots.
  • Aerate lawn with a minimum of 2” plugs (not too dry). Leave plugs on top of lawn.
  • Apply pre-emergent herbicide to control crabgrass, dandelions, & other annual weeds (do not apply over new lawn seed). Can use organic product like corn gluten.
  • In April, apply 1 lb. of high nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 sq ft. of turf. Water in well.

Planting Beds

  • Perform a soil test.
  • Remove leaves and debris from beds pulling any weeds before they get too established.
  • Remove any dead plant material (may have been done in fall)
  • Top dress beds with 2-3” compost. Lightly hand rake in – do not tear at perennial roots.  Apply slow release fertilizer.  Apply mulch.


  • Cut back ornamental grasses to 2-4” above soil level.
  • Transplant and divide non-spring blooming perennials before new vegetative growth starts – asters, daisies, sedums, yarrow, and chrysanthemums. Transplant and divide irises, peonies, and daylilies after they bloom in spring.  For peonies make sure each new plant has 3 to 4 eyes.  Do not plant too deep.  Also divide any ornamental grasses where the center has dead out.
  • Sow wildflower seeds
  • Fertilize any spring bulbs.
  • Select and set up plant stakes and trellises for peonies, delphiniums, and other tall perennials and vines.                   

Shrubs & Trees

  • Remove tree wrap (if used for new thin barked trees like Honey locust, Green Ash, Fruit trees, & soft Maples)
  • Prune trees when they are bare so you can see branch structure except for Maples and Birch which should be pruned in fall after leaf drop.
  • Cut back summer blooming shrubs such as Russian Sage, Butterfly Bush and Blue Mist Spirea to 3-6” above soil level.
  • Cut out dead branches of spring blooming shrubs like forsythia, lilac, etc.
  • Prune to shape Smokebush, Rose of Sharon, Hydrangea, Potentilla, Ninebark, etc.
  • Move shrubs while they are dormant to reduce transplant shock.


  • Clean out containers removing dirt with a hose & a brush. For terracotta & ceramic containers, soak pots in a 10% bleach solution to kill fungi and bacteria (wear gloves). Rinse and let dry.
  • Fill with fresh potting soil.
  • Plant frost hardy pansies and primroses.


  • Sow seeds indoors for tomatoes, peppers & eggplant
  • Sow cool season seeds outdoors in your prepared garden bed for lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes, beets and peas

General Maintenance

  • Clean patio and garden furniture. Repaint or stain (as needed).  Protect with oil, sealant or varnish.
  • Clean bird baths and bird feeders
  • Power wash desks