Mother Nature has given us a grace period


IO-Sorrell 4

Let these modest words be the inspiration you may require to finally get the “spring cleaning” accomplished in the landscape beds. Fortunately Mother Nature has provided a little grace this year with cloudy, cooler temperatures and later bloom cycles. The ornamental grasses have yet to green up, which means we still have a little time to dirty our fingernails.

First, I like to start with cleaning the gutters so resulting debris is removed before mulching. Then, go for any larger debris that has likely accumulated in the beds.

Second, focus on severely pruning overgrown shrubs that need fit back into the landscape using heavy loppers or long blade pruners. Re-blooming roses, spirea, viburnum, potentilla and forsythia are ideal candidates for this rejuvenation and often behave like vigorous new shrubs filled with enthusiasm. Cut ornamental grasses back to the ground with electrical or gas powered hedge trimmers and snip back last year’s perennials with hand pruners.

Third, it’s amazing what a freshly cut edge on landscape beds can do for crisp appearance. A sharp, straight edged spade is required for this heart-pounding task. Then complete a detailed cleaning of the beds.

Finally, the fun begins. Carefully apply the appropriate fertilizer (all purpose 12.12.12 with a separate flowering shrub fertilizer on those jewels) and pre-emergent weed control. Mulch is the most important component of the process, and I get ridiculously choosy about the type of product. Ask for premium mulch with no fillers of ground up railroad ties, pallets or sand. If you have not tried the brown or black color enhanced mulch, give it a shot. It holds its color all year!

This process will set you up for a low-maintenance season of healthy plants and sharp beds.