Just stop freaking out about the pandemic, OK? I mean, you should follow the guidelines of the CDC or some other trustworthy experts. But beyond that, freaking out does not help. One good thing about being isolated at home is that we can spend more time in our gardens, right? So let’s talk about spring garden cleanup.
First step in cleaning up for me is whacking down all the perennial plants still standing.
Here’s what the Sidewalk Border looks like post-whacking.
My favorite whacking tool is a kind of garden scythe that looks like a cross between a barracuda and a golf club. Here it is leaning against some tomato cages. For this purpose, it’s way easier to use than garden shears. Also, swinging it around is fun and cathartic. Just make sure no one is standing nearby.
After using the garden scythe, I neaten things up using my electric weed whacker.
Once you’ve cut down all the standing plants, you have to figure out what to do with all those dead stems and so on. Approaches to this problem are on a continuum that ranges from letting everything lie where it fell to picking up every scrap of plant matter. Over the years, I have tried both extremes.
These days I follow a middle path. I remove the heavy stems like Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). Then I remove enough of the other stuff so that the edges of each bed looks reasonably sharp. Everything else remains. Still looks a bit messy but eventually everything is hidden by green growth.
As for the stuff that gets removed, it gets dumped behind the Siberian Elm in the Thicket Corner bed, where it is pretty much hidden.
But what about leaves, you ask? That depends. The Parkway and Lamppost Beds tend to get covered in thick, heavy layers of dead foliage. For these beds, I like to rake off most of the leaves, then mulch them with my fabulous electric leaf mulcher, which I write about here. The leaf mulch is then reapplied to the beds. Leaves on the lawn are also shredded.
Everywhere else, in all the other beds and borders, the leaves are allowed to decompose wherever they find themselves.
The standard expectation for gardens is that they should be excessively neat. One reason I can’t get along with landscapers is that they are trying to meet that standard. They cannot understand a client who wants his garden moderately messy.
I’m definitely happy that I went back to doing spring cleanup myself. I saved money, got everything done early, and I took care of the garden the way I wanted.
How is spring cleanup coming along in your garden?