The sounds of spring have arrived: The air is filled with sounds of mating frogs and birds. The smell of spring has arrived with the  sweet smell of the earth and plants, especially after a rainfall. The sites of spring have arrived with my neighbors coming out of hibernation,  American Hazelnut catkins  elongating, and green shoots emerging from the ground.

 It’s time to do a few things in the garden!

1. Thank you for not cutting back your native perennials in the fall  since they provide food and shelter for wildlife over winter. When perennials  are emerging from the ground this spring, you  have several choices for clean up of last year’s dried plant material:

  • cut back  last year’s dried up  perennial material about 2-6″ from the ground with pruners, string trimmer or heavy duty mower, rake  gently away, then chop  with a mulching mower or pruners.  Dont cut back or chop everything. Leave some of the old dried material around for wildlife..  Please see my article “Spring Cleanup: Not so Fast”
  • perform a prescribed burn on your prairie or woodland garden. You must have the proper permits and training, but there are many benefits. Please my article “Preparing for the Red Buffalo” for more info.
  • If you have started your garden from seed, see “the Prairie Nursery” and “Prairie Moon” guidelines,which are very detailed.

2. If the winter was dry or the spring is dry,  some additional irrigation may be needed to establish newer plants. See my article:4 W’s of Basic Maintenance: Water, Weed, Watch and Wait

3. If needed, prune summer blooming shrubs  in early spring and prune spring blooming shrubs 1-2 weeks after they’re done blooming, before the new flower buds form.   Rejuvenation pruning can be done  on overgrown shrubs. I cut back my Hydrangea arborescens (Smooth Hydrangea or Annabelle Hydrangea)  down 6-8″ every spring to control their size.

4. Spring is a good time to divide or dig up some extra plants  to share with others.

5. Mulch your garden garden as needed. Allow native perennials to fill in bare spot for less maintenance and more habitat.

6.  This might be a good time to do a little weeding before things get out of hand, focusing on invasive plants. 4 W’s of Basic Maintenance: Water, Weed, Watch and Wait

7. Bring out your  hoses, clean your patio furniture, fill up your birds baths, turn on your ponds, etc.

8. Take frequent hikes  through some of your local woodlands and prairies. It is so interesting to see the different plants, wildlife and changes occurring throughout the entire season.

9.  Go organic with lawn care!  Please see my article  “Turf Grass Anonymous” for some resources.

10. Do not dig, step or work on the soil if too wet.  This will damage the soil.

11. Edge your garden. If your lawn borders the garden, please edge the border with a sharp spade to keep the lawn from encroaching, plus it will enhance the shape of your garden beds.

12. Hook up your rain barrels. Clean out any dirt and debris inside your barrel first.

13. Continue reading Good-Natured Landscapes’ Notebook  (on weeding, staking, spreading plants, preparing for winter, etc)  for further tips and adventures in nature this spring!

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