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Spring Cleanup for Landscape Beds.

Debra’s work as an estate-gardening supervisor & business owner, contributes to her continued enthusiasm & respect for the natural world.

Mom’s Roses

Getting Started…

Picking up branches, sticks, and trash is always a good start. Rake or blow all leaves and debris out of beds…pay particular attention to areas under shrubs…debris left here sometimes can lead to, depending on how the weather goes for that season, disease or pest situations.

In addition, if you have any evergreen shrubs (boxwoods, taxus…non blooming shrubs) that need tidying up, now would be a good time to get the hand shears or bigger and trim them into a pleasing shape that fits your garden.

Any ground covers, such as ivy, low-growing evergreens, carpet junipers etc.) can be cut away from sidewalks and patio edges to achieve a nice, neat look. And of course, as you go, pull any weeds that are popping up…they will be waiting on you if you don’t get them now.

Any problem areas of weeds…you can weed-whack them as short as possible, rake them up, then (on a non-windy day) use preferably an organic store-bought weed killer and spray the area. Regular weed killer and organic brands can usually be found at your local garden store or hardware stores…I always recommend using them carefully as not to harm neighboring plants, and or pets or other living things…always follow directions carefully.

Second Step…

Next, cut back any perennial grasses and perennial plants to about 4 inches. Any woody perennial plants like butterfly bush or Russian Sage should also be cut back to make room for new growth. (Cut just above a bud or leaf at an angle) These can be cut a little taller…6-8 inches…and of course, rake up any debris and remove. Any perennial areas of wildflowers can be cut back by mower or clippers…such as coneflower or bee balm, for example.

Note: If using hand pruners or hand shears…it’s a good idea to clean them regularly and between species, wipe the blades with a bit of bleach…this helps to prevent any cross contamination of bacteria, pests, or fungi…

At this time, make sure if there happen to be any leftover annuals in the ground from last year, pull or dig what’s left in the beds to make room for this season’s annuals.


Something I’ve had good luck with at my client’s properties, is the use of organic compost…spreading a shovelful around shrubs and trees, spreading it in in perennial and annual areas, roses, etc. really seems to improve the health of your plants. This can be repeated in late fall as well.

I usually buy bagged compost from a commercial reseller, but you can use your own if the compost has some age on it and is nice and dark.

Another alternative is bagged, granular bed fertilizer, which can be spread with a hand-held rotary spreader…just make sure your spreader is set according to the directions on the fertilizer bag…too much can burn your plants.

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Most of my clients prefer a natural, curved, deep edge on their landscape beds. This requires using a landscaper’s straight steel shovel to cut into the bed edge and pop out the loosened dirt/ turf…this is removed and carted away. You then can take a rake and rake the exposed edge toward the bed. The deep edge makes it easier to mow, keeps the mulch from moving into the turf, and just plain looks good.

Next…it’s time to put down mulch…hardwood mulch is popular in this area…but you will certainly have options to pick from when you get ready for this step. It probably is a good idea to put down a weed mat material in your beds…it won’t keep out all weeds in your beds, but it will help. Some people choose to do this…it’s entirely up to the individual.

Another choice other than mulch is river rock gravel…definitely need weed mat material down before installing this in your beds…looks nice, as well.

I hope that some of these suggestions help you in your gardening journey…remember to enjoy the day! Cheers!

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