Spring Lawn and Garden Clean-Up Tips From the Experts

Spring lawn and garden clean-up tips from Costa Verde.

Wondering if you even need to do a spring garden clean-up? Yes. You do. Think of a spring lawn and garden clean-up like a spring cleaning inside your home, only outside. Cut back and clean up the clutter, remove what you don’t want, organize what you do, and give your garden the best chance to thrive this year by kicking off with a great spring clean.

There are a lot of tasks on the must-do list, including scheduling which tasks need to be done and when, as well as how to do each task to maximize the benefits for your garden.

Thankfully, we’re experts in spring garden clean-ups, having built a gardening and garden and lawn maintenance business from the ground up in Victoria, BC, Canada. Here are our top tips and tricks to apply in your garden, wherever it may be.

Scheduling your spring garden clean-up: What needs to get done and when

When it comes to gardening, timing is everything. In general, here is a list of what needs to get done and when:

  • February to May: Tidy up debris and leaf litter from lawns and hardscapes, cutting back perennials and grasses. Re-edge garden beds. Mulch beds with a nice soil amender. Fertilize the lawn and the beds IF needed. 
  • Early March: Start up your water irrigation system, but make sure it is after your last frost.
  • March until the end of May: Time to install new plants into your garden.

3 Good reasons to do a spring clean-up in your garden

Weeds, Weeds, Weeds!

Weed control is key this time of year. Trust us. Now is your best opportunity to get out ahead of them before they flourish and take over your garden. This time of year in Victoria’s coastal climate, the soil is soft and moist, which is ideal for easy weeding. Plus, if you remove the weeds now, you’ll beat them to their own game of seeding and spreading, which means fighting them all year until you get your next chance again next spring. 

One simple weeding session, when done properly and thoroughly, will aid your garden maintenance for the rest of the year.

Spring clean-up to-do list: Remove leaves and garden debris

First, and most importantly on your spring clean-up list is to remove any fallen leaves and debris. Remove them from your lawn, hardscapes, shrubs and trees, and anywhere that the wind and wet winter has dropped them.

What about leaving leaves to compost in your garden beds?

Good idea! Composting leaves and organic plant matter play an important role in nature, biodiversity, and soil health. You don’t have to disturb the leaves and debris from your garden beds if you want them to continue to compost nutrients into the soil. Plus, there are many beneficial insects and bees living in the fallen leaves. We’ll get to soil health and organic plant matter soon.

Everywhere else, however, the leaves and debris need to go.

Here’s why:

  1. When fallen leaves and debris compost on your lawn and hardscapes, they smother and prevent new growth, especially for lawns, and they can become slippery and hazardous on hardscapes such as walkways or stairs.
  2. Some pests thrive in composting debris, so this needs to be investigated and checked for signs of activity.
  3. Fallen branches, heavy debris, and snow can damage or kill plants underneath and should always be removed.

Butterflies, moths and other beneficial insects are in that leaf debris, so don’t bag your leaves! Pile them in the garden beds and leave them be, or create a “wild” area in your garden, where the leaves and insects can be left in peace. 

Spring is the best time to improve your soil health

If you are removing the leaves and debris from your garden beds that is okay, however, you will need to protect the now-exposed soil and give it nutrients.

Using a soil amender mulch and organic fertilizer is the best way to replace the nutrients and protect the soil once you’ve removed fallen leaves. Here’s why:

  1. Feeds the soil over the year and supplies all the nutrients needed for healthy growth.
  2. Retains moisture in the soil, which is crucial in preparation for the hot summer months.
  3. Improves the soil structure and airflow as it decomposes over time.
  4. Protects the soil from the compaction caused by winter and heavy rains.

Plus, nutrient-rich dark mulch looks lovely and makes garden beds and plants pop.

Pro gardening tip: A great edge goes a long way                         

A nice sharp, clean edge goes a long way in making your garden beds and hardscapes like pathways, driveways, stepping stones, and patios look great. It also helps keep your lawn from creeping into your garden beds. Edging creates clean lines that can be maintained all season long for a well-manicured property.

Spring garden clean-up to-do: Prune plants & flowers

Late winter and early spring are ideal times to prune many plants. Here’s another blog post we wrote to help guide you on what to prune and when. It’s also a good time to fix any winter damage and check for dead and diseases in your plants and trees, pruning them away. Now is a good time to tackle unruly shrubs.

When it comes to flowering plants, as the days start to get longer and the temperature increases, you will start to see new growth. This is when plants like lavender and other perennials and grasses should be pruned. This encourages new, healthy growth and more flowers.

Lawn spring cleaning 101

Your lawn needs a spring cleaning too. This includes the very important first-of-the-season lawn cutting (after you’ve removed leaves and debris, of course), as well as dethatching, aerating, and fertilizing.

  • The first lawn cut of the season: This is very important because it encourages new growth early on and prepares it for the summer growing season. It also helps make it look cleaner after winter.
  • Dethatching in spring: Thatch is a build-up of organic material, mainly dead grass, on the lawn’s soil that blocks new growth if not removed. Dethatching is essential in removing this organic matter and allowing water absorption and light to the lawn’s roots. It also increases the effectiveness of fertilizers.
  • Aeration: This is important to do when the soil becomes compact, which easily occurs on a lawn with lots of foot traffic and recreational activities and after cold or wet winters. Aerating essentially punches holes into your lawn, removing some soil and relieving the compaction. Aerating at least once a year in the spring will help water and air get into the roots, delivering a lusher greener lawn.
  • Organic fertilizer: Lawns are heavy feeders, and to have a nice green thick lawn requires a lot of water and nutrients. Applying fertilizer in the spring will give a healthy dosage of nutrients that the lawn needs to get off to a great start. Lime can be applied as well if you have a mossy or weedy lawn, as the lime reduces the acidity of the soil.

Always do your spring clean-ups with wildlife in mind

Here are some green-thumb tips to remember when you’re in your garden this spring:

  • Birds eat seeds: Standing seed heads provide an important food source for birds over winter and early spring. Leave stems standing to at least 1ft or 30cm high, because at this height bees and other insects raise their young in this space.
  • Insects need homes: Check for cavities with nesting bees. Some bees make it easy to identify their nests because they cap them with leaves or mud. Others protect the entrances with just their heads popping out. Keep an eye out for chrysalises and cocoons when pruning, they could be attached to the stems, and if you do find some, keep them on the stem.
  • Make a nest: Got an old stump or dying tree? These are perfect habitats for wildlife, so consider making it a nature tree or stump, where insects can nest and be protected.

Need help with your lawn and garden spring clean-up in Victoria, BC?

Spring clean-ups are important because they lay the foundation for a healthy, beautiful and successful garden and lawn for the rest of the growing season. But it can be a lot too, especially if you have a big green space. It may be a good idea to bring in professional gardening help to do your spring clean-up.

In Victoria, BC, Canada, Costa Verde’s gardening team is happy to help. Reach out to learn more and book your free estimate with us.