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Tips & Tricks for Spring Clean Up From The Pros!

Updated: Apr 12, 2019

Spring is finally here and like many, are you staring out your window, looking at the debris, muck and sparse flower beds and wondering "where do we begin"?

Not to worry, we've got you.

Here are some handy tips, tricks and recommendations from a few guys who have been around this block many times, and have learned the most efficient practices for getting your lawn and gardens into tip top shape.

1. Preparation & Techniques

Spring clean-up can be fairly labour intensive, the first task is to grab your rake and start cleaning up all of the stones, leaves and other matter found throughout your yard and gardens.

We prefer to use large hard plastic rakes as they are the most durable, and can hold a lot of material when raking and lifting into a wheel barrow or garbage bag.


Using short, quick, firm strokes while raking is most effective to remove the dead grass and thatch from your lawn. You will have a healthier lawn if not only the debris is cleaned up, but the dead grass and thatch has been removed. (this process is called de-thatching); giving your lawn a better start to the season.

Grab Your Tarp(s)

Using tarps for collection will make for an easier process of removal, and a cleaner job site overall. If trimming evergreens throughout your yard is required, using a tarp is also handy for collecting the clippings and keeping them from getting into any existing mulch, or decorative stone.

2. Pruning

Pruning involves the removal of certain areas of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots to target the removal of diseased, damaged or dead parts of your plants, and reshaping them to improve the health and quality of your shrubs and perennials.

When to prune months: October, November, February, March, April.

What you need to know about how to properly prune your shrubs and perennials and small trees (you will need pruning shears / saw):

When pruning in the spring you need to determine what size/shape you would like for your shrub. You may be looking to reshape or thin out the shrub, or simply just remove a few out of control branches.

A general rule of thumb is to remove at least 1/3rd of the shrub after the first three years of growth (grasses and perennials do not apply to this rule).

Always remember the three key pruning guides: dead, diseased or crossing branches must all be removed.

When pruning a shrub/small tree take your pruning shears and cut directly above the bud on a 45 degree angle. When pruning your perennials and grasses cut back all flower stems leaving a small clump.

When you prune you encourage new growth, thus begins the process of a healthier/happier plant.

Don’t be scared that you’re hurting the plant, it will thank you later!

3. Add Mulch

Kick off spring by giving your garden beds some great nutrients and taking control of weeds before it’s too late!

Adding mulch to your flower beds creates the protection and moisture your plants need, while also adding nutrients into the soil allowing your plants to thrive.

One of the biggest mistakes when applying mulch is adding the new mulch on top of old mulch. While plant-based mulches do decompose, adding a new layer can cause the existing layers to stop decomposing, creating a permanent barrier to plant growth. For an annual bed, remove old mulch before you till the soil and add compost. If you're applying mulch to a perennial bed, you might be tempted to just add a new layer of mulch on top, but this can cause rot, nutrient starvation, and plant death. Remove as much of the old layers as possible before you add more.

Mulch should never be more than three /four inches thick in a planting bed, so by adding only an inch or so each time you mulch, you can get away with only removing the mulch every other year.

TIP: avoid laying mulch directly against the plant base (too much moisture could potentially damage the base and rot the shrub/tree). We recommend clearing the mulch away from a four inch area around the plant base.

Adding mulch to your plant beds will prohibit the growth of weeds, help to retain moisture, while also adding a great pop of colour to your flower beds and yard.

4. Edging

Edging is not only a great way to separate your flower beds and turf area - helping to define your garden beds, but it also helps to ensure that none of your plant material will be damaged when cutting the grass area close to the flower beds.

If landscape edging is flat and wide enough, it can handle the wheels of a lawn mower. A practical mowing strip created by landscape edging eliminates the need for trimming around your beds, and prevents you from mowing over tender plants at the edge of your lawn.   

5. Fertilize

Fertilizing your lawn and/or plants and shrubs is a great idea to give them a healthy start to the year. We recommend a slow release fertilizer, as it continually adds the fertilizer to your plants throughout the growing season. Fertilizing plays a big role in keeping your lawn lush and green, fertilizing your lawn in the spring will help stimulate its growth, increase its nutrient uptake, and help it bounce back from any stress it could face. We recommend fertilizing your plant beds after you till, but before laying mulch.

Here are some further tips and tricks from Garden Answer to help with your spring fertilizing!

5. When all else fails, call the pros.

GCL offers a variety of maintenance and cleanup services to help you with the changing seasons, or just to assist with the general upkeep of your lawn. Check out our Maintenance page on our site for more information.

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