There's no point in pretending you're not going to be out in your garden the first warm second of spring. While there is no harm in cleaning up fallen branches and debris, wait until the soil is no longer wet enough to form a ball in your hand, before walking on it and compacting it. But don't wait too long to start your clean up. It's much easier to cut plants back before the old growth gets tangled up in the new growth.

This dual irrigation system is great for raised beds or traditional in ground gardens, so you can use it even if you have a container garden. The first part of the system is a soaker hose that keeps your plants clean and refreshed. The second part is a drip irrigation system that delivers water to the roots of your plants – right where they need it.
Water is vital to plant health, but watering by hand can be a hassle. You have to drag hoses between gardens, move sprinklers around, or take the time to water each plant. Our innovative watering systems take the hassle out of watering. They're the easiest way to give plants the consistent moisture they need for your biggest harvest and most beautiful blooms. Here's why:
I know it is difficult NOT to fall clean up ‘cuz it feels great to have your garden all tucked in and neat for the winter, but what you are doing is chopping up the overwintering insects, moth and butterfly eggs or pupae, etc. If we chop leaves in the fall instead of waiting until late spring when it’s warm enough for ALL the critters to have come out, we will have no moths or butterflies, nor will the baby birds have caterpillars to eat. There is tremendous loss of habitat and we are contributing to it by over-zealous tidying in addition to the invasive plants along the roads and in other unattended areas, exotic non-natives in our gardens which native insects can’t eat, plus overabundant deer in the forest destroying the understory that insects have plummeted 45% in the last 30 years. If we keep disposing our leaves and removing them from their host trees and cutting back perennials in fall, we are breaking the circle of life and making our ecosystem unhealthy. With the loss of insects we may find ourselves in the future unable to pollinate our crops, a very scary possibility.
Flower beds quickly fill with weeds and cause a major eyesore. Removing grass and weeds from flower beds is a quick way to improve the overall appearance of your home or business. Once the beds are in order, it’s best to install a thick layer of hardwood mulch that will slow weed growth, conserve water, and give distinguished lines to the landscape.
Otherwise, I am completely on board with the suggestions in this post! Thank you Jessica for educating me with so many good reasons to wait until spring to tidy. In particular I have some overgrown Forsythia bushes – moved in last October, and pruned just a bit this year, but planning a big clean-up at the end of winter. Wondering if it is best to wait until then for that?
Here’s a story offerred for next spring’s readers. About 12 early-springs ago I decided to get a jump start on the vegi garden, pulling the previous year’s plant remains and putting them in the compost pile, etc. As I turned the soil to incorporate last years mulch into the beds, using a pitchfork, it was maybe my 3rd plunge into the soil when I ran into a large frog buried in the soil, still hibernating. Thinking I had hurt him I ran into the house to get a box to put him in and hoped to nurse him back to health; when I’d returned he was gone, and hopefully hadn’t been hurt too badly. Obviously a frog isn’t a pollinator, but be careful out there folks! All around us are worlds of living beings who make our lives possible; we need to protect them!

Pop-up underground systems that spray water are usually used as lawn irrigation systems or to broadcast water over a large area. They can be quite wasteful, using a large amount of water and allowing up to 50% of it to be evaporated on hot, windy days before it even reaches its destination. Another disadvantage is that by broadcasting the water from overhead, fungal diseases that thrive on wet foliage can be spread easily. One advantage, however, is that the amount of water and the area it is sprayed on can be adjusted and tailored to the size and shape of your lawn. Additionally, they are generally less expensive than other options.


4. The Birds: Insect-eating birds, like chickadees, wrens, titmice, nuthatches, pheobes, and bluebirds, are very welcome in the garden because they consume thousands of caterpillars and other pest insects as they raise their young every gardening season. Not cleaning up the garden means there will be more protein-rich insects available to them during the coldest part of the year. These birds are quite good at gleaning “hibernating” insects off of dead plant stems and branches, and out of leaf litter. The more insect-nurturing habitat you have, the greater the bird population will be. Your feathered friends will also appreciate feasting on the seeds and berries they can collect from intact perennial, annual, and shrub stems. Song birds are one of the best reasons skip the garden clean up!

Application methods and rate will be different for water that is going to stay put on a flat surface and soak in or if it’s going to run down a slope. Figuring out the correct watering schedule and amounts for flat ground can be difficult enough with differences in water needs, soil types or exposure; but watering on slopes adds another layer of complexity. Considerations need to be made to compensate for gravity, trajectory angles and pressure differences due to elevation changes. Check valves should also be installed on lower levels to keep residual water from leaking out.
These specialized containers have an upper pot that holds the soil and plant, while a lower reservoir holds water that is wicked up into the soil. Usually, these pots will hold enough water for a few days, depending on the weather and evaporation rate. Although they are called self-watering, water still needs to be added to the reservoir every few days.
You can make this irrigation system for under $100 and it is really easy. You can use this for your traditional garden or for those container gardens and it is perfect for helping you to keep enough water to herb gardens or others that you have above the ground. You use PVC pipe – which is really inexpensive – and a few other key supplies to make this one and it will definitely save you time and money.
Still, some early spring cleanup tasks are sure things this time of year. So go ahead and remove burlap from trees and shrubs as the weather warms. Prune away winter-killed branches to make room for new growth. Cut back spent perennials and pull up old annuals if you didn't get around to it last fall. Then look around. "March is a good time to take stock of your yard and see if it's time to thin out crowded beds and do some transplanting to fill in bare spots," says This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook.
Most evergreens should require little to no spring care other than some tidying up. Spring is a good time to fertilize evergreens because they are actively growing at this time. However, if the soil is healthy and rich, you should only need to feed your evergreens about every other year. Look for a well-balanced food labeled especially for evergreens.
Irrigation timers connect directly to a water source and allow timed release of water through a drip system, soaker hose or regular garden hose. Knowing that your plants are getting watered regularly while you’re away or are too busy to do it yourself can be a relief. However, remember that a basic timer without a rain sensor will still keep its watering cycle even on rainy days.
One of the key aspects of fall cleanup is the removal of potentially problem pests and disease. When you rake up old leaves and debris, you are removing a hiding place for overwintering insects and pests. The old plant material left behind is a perfect refuge for diseases such as fungal spores, which can infect fresh new plants in spring. Garden clean up should also include maintenance of the compost pile and proper practices to prevent mold and seed bloom.
Our flagship Snip-n-Drip Soaker Hose System uses a soaker hose to provide the slow, deep watering that plants love. By applying water at the root zone, it keeps foliage dry, helping to prevent disease problems. And it conserves water, too. Soaker hoses use up to 80 percent less water than overhead watering! By alternating sections of soaker hose and garden hose, you can set up a watering system in minutes that applies water where you need it — and not where you don't. Place the soaker hose next to plants, and use the garden hose to cross paths and other areas where you don't need water.
Timers turn the water on and off at times you set. Timers can prevent overwatering, minimize wasted water and allow your system to function as an automatic watering system. Some can connect to home automation systems for control from a computer or smart device. Certain smart devices can even regulate watering schedules based on weather activity and provide reports on water usage, making them ideal smart home solutions.
I used to leave most of my garden until spring, but here it is nearly under water in early spring and not dried enough to dig out roots of invasive perennial weeds (sedge, bindweed, sumac from next door, wild roses, other brambles, Virginia creeper, knotweed, goutweed, and a little witchgrass) until late June, so I can only to do this in late fall before the ground freezes. I can usually leave some beds untouched because they are not so badly invaded. I feel bad about doing this, but cannot figure out a better way and still be able to plant early veggies before it becomes too hot for them. An?y suggestions? Especially for dealing with sedge, sumac, and brambles?
4. Clean Out Garden & Beds – Pull out annuals and any non-perennial plants in your vegetable garden and flower beds. Leaving non-perennials intact could cause disease to spread. Removing them prevent disease and get your started off on the right foot come spring. Make sure you either bag the plants or dispose of them in an area of your yard that is away from any gardens (so disease can’t spread come spring).
Remove badly rotted or damaged pickets, boards, or lattice, then scrub wood structures clean with a mix of 2 gallons water, 2 quarts bleach, and 1 cup liquid soap; let dry. Patch rotted sections with wood epoxy; install new wood as needed. Check wobbly fence posts to see if they need replacing (find the how-to at thisoldhouse.com. Scrape off old paint, then sand wood all over with 60 grit to prep for a new finish coat. Once temperatures go above 50° F, brush on a new coat of paint or stain.
In early spring, many insects are still in diapause (a physiological state akin to hibernation). In other words, they’re still sleeping. Sometimes they wake up because the weather warms and sometimes they wake up because the day-length increases. Lots of beneficial insects, including pollinators like tiny native bees and pest-munching predators like syrphid flies, lacewings, and parasitic wasps, spend the winter hunkered down in hollow plant stems either as adults or pupae. Cutting down the dead plant stems too early in the spring will disturb them before they have a chance to emerge. Wait as long as you can to do your spring garden clean up. Ideally, you should wait until the daytime temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees F. But, that being said, I’m well aware that gardeners like to cut down old plant stems before new growth starts, so as an alternative to delaying your spring garden clean up, here are two other options:
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