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In the Garden

Get down and dirty in the garden


4 Ways to Take Spring Cleaning Outdoors

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Spring means it’s time to tie up the hammock and enjoy warm evenings after getting your hands dirty in the garden. There’s a lot to love about spring, but spring cleaning can keep you stuck indoors, combatting clutter and completing random home maintenance projects.

Get outside and get your green on with outdoor spring cleaning, because you’ve been hibernating a season too long. After the wet part of spring has passed, it’s the perfect time to get out in mild temperatures and cut back old growth, clear debris and make your yard hammock hangout-ready.

1. Cutting Back Growth and Nurturing Plants

Get your sharpest clippers ready and rev up your lawn mower, because it’s time cut back the old growth.

• Cut grass down to within a few inches of the dirt.
• Strip away old vines threatening to overtake trees.
• Prune roses and shrubs.
• Cut back yellow and decaying bits of plants, and transplant seedlings as soon as possible after sprouting.
• Add new fertilizer and mulch to nurture plants.

If you want to avoid chemicals, use essential oils and other natural sprays to fight stubborn weeds that block plant growth, saving a few dandelions and other beneficial weeds for the bees and butterflies. Clove and cinnamon essential oils are great for fighting stubborn weeds, as is household vinegar.

2. Clearing General Debris

Rake old twigs and dead leaves, but don’t bag them up for the garbage — save them for composting to make a healthy plant fertilizer. An alternative is to research local collection agencies that pick up dead leaves to make fertilizer for area gardeners. Cleaning up old plant matter gives grass and seeds access to much-needed sunlight.

Was there a recent storm? Clear away blown trash and other debris, like old patio furniture or worn kids’ toys. Now is the time to get rid of objects that aren’t necessary or useful in your outdoor space and that end up being chased as debris.

3. Tackling Tree Trimming, Disease and Removal

Shears may do for pruning smaller branches, but larger issues with trees are dangerous for you to tackle on your own. Some structural defects in trees are hard to detect because they occur in the roots or inside the tree. It’s important to know when to call experts for tree removal or remediation of disease. Look for signs of decay and disease in your trees.

• Mushrooms at the tree base or roots point to internal decay.
• Fruiting bodies over the surface of the tree indicate sapwood rot, which means the tree’s interior could be dead. Basal rot also takes place at the base, or lower trunk, of the tree.
• When you see carpenter ants on a tree, they are often making a home out of a tree that’s decaying.
• Structural decay of tree roots develops from the bottom to the top, and signs aren’t always visible.

4. Landscaping Plans and Tool Organization

Spring is also a time to envision new landscaping. Do you want to create a labyrinth, make mosaic stepping stones leading to your garden or add a tire swing to a big oak tree?

Finally, after you have finished your projects, organize your tools. What do you have duplicates of, and what do you never use? Clean off the gunk and shine your tools up.

Soon, you’ll be ready to host epic barbecues and spend time in your hammock to look up at the stars. Spring cleaning isn’t just for the indoors. Take sheer joy in shearing the old growth away to reveal a beautiful outdoor oasis.