While it may not feel like spring just yet, there is no question that this breathtakingly beautiful revival of nature is just around the corner. As the day’s sunshine lingers longer, the snow begins to melt away and the temperature begins to rise, you’re going to see the unsightly remnants of winter. What’s left behind from this long, harsh and blustery winter is the mud, sand and salt that made such a mess of your lovely surroundings. However, if you get a jumpstart on your property with a good cleanup and some early maintenance, you will be set up for a better growing season.

The Yard

Cleaning up the yard should be the top priority because what is left behind from winter is pretty yucky. You’ll want to rake up any leftover leaves and plant debris on the property once the temperature has risen to a comfortable level for working outside. When you remove the leftovers of winter’s wrath from the yard, your property will look cleaner plus you’ll be removing any remaining plant debris that might harbor disease.

While you’re raking your lawn after the snow has melted, you might see circles in your lawn that could indicate that you have snow mold. Snow mold appears on the lawn anywhere from 3-12 inches in diameter and may damage or even kill your grass. Once identified, a fungicide treatment may be required to kill the unwanted pathogen.

A good raking around the shrubs will clear out any leaves, broken branches and rubbish that may have blown into your yard during winter storms. If you have a compost bin, you can store the remains to break-down as fertilizer for the soil and plants. While you’re doing the cleanup, remove any annuals left in the flower beds from the previous year and throw them into the compost too.

You may need to dig down into some bushes with your hands to get the lodged leaves, but when the blooms begin, your bushes will cleaner for good growth. If you happen to have any bushes or small trees wrapped in burlap, this is a good time to remove them once the temperature is consistently above 5 degrees Celsius. Removing the burlap will prevent the plant from sweating which causes stress. Removing the burlap prevents plants from becoming more susceptible to pest damage and disease.

Spring Pruning

Depending on the diameter of any dead or diseased branches or shrubs due to winter kill, use a sharp pair of pruners to cut off the lifeless parts. By removing them during your cleanup, you will encourage new growth during the spring season. The same holds true if you have any climbing roses. Use a pruner to cut off the thicker, older canes in order to encourage, develop and train new canes to grow. If there were any perennials or ornamental grass that you did not cut back in the fall, now is the time to cut them back to ground to ensure a hearty spring growth. Additionally, summer blooming shrubs should also be pruned to produce their flower buds on new growth.

Mulch

Some people strip away the old mulch in early spring in preparation of putting down new mulch after the planting season has begun. If this is your plan, you can remove the old mulch and add it to your compost for producing additional fertilizer for the garden in the summer.

If you’re adding mulch for the first time, a good layer about 2 inches deep will help to discourage or stop the growth of weeds in your gardens. Mulch is also beneficial in holding moisture and regulating soil temperature.

Soil Rotation

If the ground has warmed up enough to turn the soil in your flower beds with a garden fork, this will help to loosen the earth and improve drainage as the moisture continues to melt. It will relieve compaction while improving the nutrients and minerals that have been hibernating during the winter months.

Over-seeding

Once the snow is all gone and the temperature has warmed up a bit with spring bulbs beginning to sprout, you can safely put down some grass seed for early lawn development. The moisture in the ground and the warmer sun will aid in the grass seed taking hold for a strong root system and lush looking lawn.