Starting spring cleanup

With warm days mixed in with the cold, there is finally an opportunity to get some enjoyable springtime work done in the garden. For me that means cleanup.

Although I'm faced with decisions on all of the brown bamboo -- what gets chopped down, what gets a chance to leaf back out, and so on -- the only way to ensure that something gets done on a pleasant day is to start with the easy tasks, or at least the things that are bugging me the most.


So I started with this raised bed. There's not much to do here other than trim back some herbs, remove dead stems from last year's perennials, and rake.

Since I see this bed every time I go to the kitchen sink, it seemed a good place to start.

This was the largest container I could easily find, a 5-gallon bucket...

...and it was not nearly large enough. (All of my bigger tubs and bins were full of plants and used potting mix.)

These globe thistle carcasses still contain lots of seed, as the birds didn't get them all...

...but they never do, as evidenced by the dozens of seedlings and yearly expansion of this mass planting! (It was originally a single plant.)

It was quite difficult getting the leaves out from under the Artemesia 'Powis Castle':

I'm debating whether or not I should prune it back a little bit. I probably will.

So, the leaves...

It's amazing how many leaves can get captured by a garden bed over a winter! I love oak trees, but man, they are slow leaf droppers! (I got two tarp loads out of the beds on the side of the house, and four or five out of the front yard beds. Sheesh!)

If you're expecting to see a pristine "after" photo, with every leaf removed and everything trimmed back neatly, you'll be disappointed.

Believe it or not, this is after raking.
That's not how I approach garden cleanup. For me it's a series of passes, where the first pass removes most of the leaves and much of the detritus from last season but some is left -- I don't worry over a few leaves now.

Later though, when everything is green and lovely, those few leaves will need to go!

But I don't want to get ahead of myself: raking is just the first, most obvious cleanup task.

(Back when I started this blog, almost every post was about cleanup. I soon realized two things: 1) it's not that interesting to read about other people's chores, and 2) stopping to take photos really slows things down! So you won't see too much more about cleanup... unless you want it?)


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (March 13, 2014 at 10:28 AM)  

You are one of the few people I know who would use the word "enjoyable" in the same breath as "cleanup." I try to get it done as quickly as possible, but, like cleaning the house, it's something I'd delegate if I had the choice :-).

Salty Pumpkin Studio  – (March 13, 2014 at 10:59 AM)  

Be glad for oak and not willow and locust leaves that are so small they get into everything, and follow you into the house.
I also enjoy the spring clean up because I get to see the new shoots under all the leaves. And, the bugs aren't out when its still chilly.

Alan  – (March 13, 2014 at 11:27 AM)  

Gerhard: that's because you haven't been through a real winter in years, and can actually garden straight through. Raking on the first warm day in months is better than shoveling snow. :)

Maywyn: My yard was *all* locusts until I started gardening, so am very familiar with the gutter-clogging abilities of those little leaves. I don't miss them.

Anonymous –   – (March 13, 2014 at 6:52 PM)  

I like hearing about your clean up - I feel like I spend a lot of time doing it & it's interesting to hear from others about how they prioritize their tasks. I like your "first pass" strategy!

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