Spring Garden Cleanup – Part 2

Spring Garden Cleanup – Part 2

It’s a really nice day, in between snowstorms, so I’m outside in the garden starting to deal with some of the activities of spring. And what I need to do is get all this area cleaned up before all of the new green spring growth appears. Join me as I get to work and do my spring garden cleanup. Hi, I’m Gardener Scott. In part one of these videos on my spring garden cleanup, I identified the priorities of the sections of my garden and landscape that I needed to clean up. Highest priority for me was cleaning up this asparagus bed. So that’s where I’ll begin. One of the biggest issues when it comes time to cleaning up old plants is making the decision of whether to cut off the old dying plants or attempt to pull out the plants. In most cases I would avoid pulling plants that are perennials. Particularly with something like this asparagus, the spears that will be appearing very soon, are growing from this very same root, and if I yank out these old dead pieces of the plant I could possibly pull the plant out of the ground or at least damage the parts of the plant that are underneath. So for the asparagus, I’ll choose to cut back all of the dead parts of the plant, just to minimize any damage that might happen to the plant underneath. I can choose to do a chop and drop and that’s what I like to do, is I’ll take all of these pieces of the dead plant and I’ll just cut them into smaller pieces and then just let them fall on the surface. It adds a little bit of mulch and eventually, these plants will break down and add some of their nutrients to the soil. I’ll continue working through this bed, chopping all of these old dead stalks, letting it all fall on the surface, cutting it into smaller pieces along the way. And you can see this goes pretty quickly. So I’ll be done in this bed in no time at all For plants like this horseradish, with much smaller stems and stalks, you can actually get in here and just break them with your fingers. I find this to be much faster. Now I can come in and choose to cut, but you can see that the cutting actually takes longer than just breaking off these stalks and letting them fall right back to the surface. Along the way as I clean up each of these beds. I’ll use a weeding tool or a trowel when I come across something like this grass that’s growing in the bed. So I’ll just loosen the soil a little bit. I don’t want to disturb any of the roots underneath and then I’ll pull up, in this case a weedy grass, and then I’ll just drop it back on the surface to act as a mulch and allow it to decompose and give its nutrients back to the soil. I’ll treat these dead tomatoes a little differently and instead of letting them fall back to the soil. I’ll actually put them in a bag to carry out of this particular bed area. And the reason I do that is because tomatoes have the possibility of carrying bacteria and fungal spores on the plants into the next year. And if I had a diseased plant and I let it drop to the ground or I put it in my compost pile, I am now spreading that disease throughout the entire space where these plants might fall or I might use that compost. I’m really lucky, in that I don’t have diseased plants, as far as I know, so just to be on the safe side, I always take my tomato plants and dispose of them in the trash. For the perennial herbs that I pointed out in the first video I can also just break off these hard stems. Now, I have transitioned to gloves because this can be a little hard on the hands. I have no problem getting in and breaking off all of these stems, but this is another opportunity for bringing in some tools and in this case the pruners might actually speed it up a little bit because these are tough little plants. and then I will take the time and cut these into smaller pieces and let them drop on the soil. It saves me having to buy extra mulch and it’s a great way to reuse all of this. I can throw it in the compost pile, but for now it’s going back on the soil. For a plant like raspberries or blackberries, or any plant that might have thorns or stickers, definitely use gloves. Now I can get in here with my pruners and cut out the individual canes, but what I find is sometimes they’re thick and there’s a lot of them. So this is a job for coming in with loppers and making short work of cutting back all of these raspberries. And though I could cut these into smaller pieces, this is a big bed and that’s a lot of work, so instead what I choose to do with these is use them as kindling in my fire pit. They also make a pretty good mulch. And if you’ve got a problem with cats in your area you can spread some of these canes with all the little stickers on top of the ground as a mulch and it may keep the cats out of your garden because they don’t want to be stepping all over these little sharp pieces. This strawberry bed needs a lot of work and I’ll be digging up a lot of these plants, transplanting some of them and moving them into other spots, but for now I can easily clear up a lot of these dead leaves by just running my hand back and forth and the leaves really come off the plant quite easily. And there’s lots of new green growth underneath. So just by running my hands back and forth I’ve already cleaned up this bed dramatically just in this spot. There are a lot of little pieces of grass growing and so as I really focus on this bed, I’ll get that grass out But for now, I just want to give these plants some sunlight by breaking up these leaves and let them get a really good spring start For a large garden area like this one what I’ll do is just continue to use those techniques that I’ve already pointed out and try to get through it as quickly as possible by coming through and breaking off branches and stems, when I can. By cutting others that I might not want to damage the plants underneath and in almost all cases I’ll just be using a chop and drop and letting it all fall back. These chives have already started growing so I’ll come in here, same idea, pulling out some of the dead leaves from last year, but I am not as willing to come in here with pruners because I don’t want to cut any of this young growth. So I’ll just use my hand to clear out an area where there are plants actively growing like this. For plants right next door, like this thyme, I’ll cut back the thyme with the pruners, because these are much sturdier stems and they’re not as easy to break. And what I’ll do is actually cut back to a point, if you can see it, there’s some new green growth right here. And that’s the new growth of the plant. So that’s how far I’m going to cut it back. Some of this older growth really won’t recover real well, so this is a good chance to clean up my thyme plants and cut them back like this in early spring These zinnias are annuals and so I can just pull them out of the ground. For the most part they’ll just break off. There are still quite a few seed heads remaining and what I’ll do is actually Take some of these seed heads and save the seed But there’s so much here and because these plants are so thick and a little uglier when I just drop them on top of the ground I’m actually going to put these in my bag and then take them into the compost pile because I still want this area to look nice and these plants broken up as a chop and drop just don’t quite look as nice, but I will save some of the seeds and put them in different areas because I know there’s a lot of seeds that have already dropped here and they’ll be popping up this year, no doubt. As for this monarda, the seed heads have been picked pretty clean over the winter by birds and whatever else might have been eating the seeds. So I don’t really have a problem dropping these on the ground. I know that a number of seeds fell in the fall, but for now I’ll just clean these plants up and let them fall. And actually as I’m cleaning out these plants, I can already see they’ve started to grow and they’re looking pretty strong. They’ve come through the winter pretty well. These Cosmos are annuals and I’ll just pull them out of the ground, shake off the soil from the roots, and this area cleans up very nicely, very quickly. This lamb’s ear is a mess, but it’s pretty easy to clean up. I will put this into a bag as well for the compost pile There are a lot of seeds here. But it’s just so overgrown. There’s really no reason to drop any of these gangly branches and stems and it looks so much better and the whole area is cleaned up. And just by running my hand back and forth, kind of like the strawberries, it breaks up all of those dead leaves and reveals all of the new green growth underneath This Artemisia is already growing And they don’t break off very easily. So I’ll come in and I’ll cut back all of this dead growth just above where the new growth is starting. This takes a little more time than some of the other cleanup methods, but it really makes for a better looking plant in the end and it doesn’t damage any of this new growth. For my fruit tree, I’m just looking to take off some of the branches that aren’t growing real well. So this one is growing right into another branch. So I’ll just come in and prune this one off. And right next to it there’s one of these little sprouts that’s growing straight up and it’s growing into the tree, so I don’t want that. So I’ll trim it out. Another branch right here growing inward I’ll cut that And so I’m continuing to just look around the tree for other problems like this branch right here that’s also growing inward. So to help shape the plant I’ll actually come in and I’ll cut this real close to the base, so that the whole part that’s growing inward Is now gone. And that will allow the rest of this branch to continue growing up and outward. Here’s a branch where one of the main pieces of the branch is actually overlapping and it’s starting to wear away the bark on this other branch. It’s quite misshapen. It’s got a piece that’s growing sideways here, two sideways branches here, and so I think in this case, it’s actually best to come all the way back down to the branch collar and so I’ll take my loppers and actually take off this entire lower branch. The tree’s grown enough that I don’t need this lower one. So it makes more sense just to get rid of it I’ll cut this ornamental grass back all the way to the ground Before I start cutting though I will look to make sure that there’s no new growth popping up because I don’t want to cut that at all That hasn’t started yet. So I’ll cut all of my grasses all the way down. Now, I do have another video that you can link to right here that shows how to cut ornamental grass. And it goes beyond just pruners. There’s a number of other tools that you can use. So if you have grass go ahead and check out that video. As far as the yarrow and the salvia and all these other plants I’ll cut them back or break them off at the ground just like everything else that I’ve already done The irises are already starting to grow. But cleaning up all of last year’s growth is really easy. It’s just a simple matter of pulling back all these old stalks and all these old leaves. I’ll leave some of these in place, but it can look pretty straggly if you leave everything. So I will pull some of these bigger pieces out for the compost. But just a real simple movement of the hand and you can already see this area looks a world better already. It’s taken most of the afternoon to clean up this area and the others that I pointed out. But I think it’s looking a lot better. It’s cleaned up. Now if you don’t like the look of the plants on the ground with the chop and drop, you can bag them and put them in the compost or take them out to the curb. But the plants that are here, the perennials and then those annual seeds, are ready to start growing and they’ve got space and sunlight for all of that spring growth. If you have any comments or questions about cleaning up your garden, from the first video or this one, please let me know below. If you want to see more Gardener Scott videos, go ahead and subscribe, if you haven’t already done so. If you liked the video, you can give me a thumbs up and share it. I’m Gardener Scott. Enjoy gardening.

5 Replies to “Spring Garden Cleanup – Part 2”

  1. I am more of a neat freak and do all my cleanup in the fall of all the dead plants. I make sure the garden is mulched heavily all winter. Is there a special reason you do your cleanup in the spring and not the fall?

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