By Stacy Kershaw
The days are longer, the sun is warmer, and the birds are slowly returning. It’s a sure sign that Spring is on its way…even if we are still dealing with gray, damp weather and loads of mud. So take advantage of those warm, sunny days and go see all that is sprouting in your yard. You can start by removing winter mulch from your garden beds and looking for new sprouts of growth.
Prune, Prune, Prune! Pruning is critical to remove dead, broken, damaged, or diseased wood. But pruning is also important to maintain a plant’s size and shape, as well as to encourage flowers and fruit.
Perennials: Because I love the way freshly fallen snow looks atop my perennials and grasses, I don’t do the bulk of my pruning until now. This is the perfect time to cut back the dead stems before the plants start to put out new growth. Leave about 3 inches or so of stem so you have a marker of where late-blooming plants such as butterfly weed are.
Trees: Since the trees still don’t have their leaves, it’s easy to see their structure and where to prune. However, wait to prune spring blooming trees and shrubs until after they bloom. If you have large trees that need pruning, be sure to call a certified arborist.
Shrubs: When pruning shrubs that create multiple stems from the ground like red twig dogwood, spirea, viburnum, and blueberry, start by removing one or two of the oldest stems. This promotes vigorous growth from the base of the plant.
Hedges: When pruning hedges, it’s important to shape it so that the bottom of the hedge is wider than the top. This allows sunlight to reach all parts of the plant.
And finally, beware of ticks! They are active any time the temperatures are above freezing.