Spring Cleaning Tasks for the Garden

raised bed garden
 The Spruce / Randi Rhoades
  • 01of 12Remove Mulch and Prune Your Perennial Flowers The Spruce / Adrienne LegaultThe first task is removing and composting any dead annual plants that remained over winter. These will not return, and any self-seeders will already have done their job.If you didn’t prune back your perennials last fall, they’re probably looking pretty ugly as spring sets in. Many perennials prefer to be left standing throughout the winter, for extra protection. But by definition, herbaceous perennials will die back to the ground during winter. If you did leave your perennials standing last fall, once you start to see new growth at the base of the plants, it’s safe to begin removing winter mulch and pruning them down to ground level.
  • 02of 12Prune Woody Perennial Flowers and Plants The Spruce / Marie IannottiSome shrubby plants with woody stems (artemisia, buddleia, caryopteris, lavender, etc.) need to be cut back each spring because they only bloom on new branches. These are pruned in the spring to limit winter damage and to encourage the plant to start sending out those new flowering branches. It’s best to wait until the danger of a hard frost is past. Most of these woody perennials will let you know when it’s time to prune them by showing signs of opening buds on the lower stem portions or new growth at the base of the plants.
  • 03of 12Trim Evergreen and Semi-Evergreen Perennial Plants The Spruce / Kara RileyDepending on where you are gardening, some perennial plants will never quite go dormant, but they may still need tidying up. Plants like Epimedium, Hellebores, Heuchera, and bearded iris retain their leaves all winter. Spring is the time to trim back the tattered foliage and encourage new growth to come in.
  • 04of 12Cut Back Ornamental Grasses Mark Turner / Getty ImagesIf you left your ornamental grasses up for winter interest, you could cut them back as soon as you can get to them. You don’t need to wait for new growth. Cut grasses to within a few inches of the ground. They’ll come back up when they’re ready.