KUSA - Get out the pruners, kneeling pad and pain relievers: it's time to cleanup the garden.
Cutting perennials down to ground level now allows light to hit the emerging new growth. The exceptions are shrubby perennials such as lavender, santolina and thyme, as well as evergreen perennials such as vinca, partridge feather or ivy. Those can just be pruned to eliminate winter damage.
As you work your way through a bed or border, cut the debris into smaller pieces and add this to your compost pile. Don't get too neat; crumbling leaves add organic matter to the soil as they break down. This is pulled down by earthworms or mixed in when you dig, enriching the soil.
A layer of organic matter serves as a great top dressing mulch for the soil. It's healthy and helps to conserve water and suppress weed seedlings. As you work, keep a lookout for dandelions or grass that may have invaded your beds.
Do not yet prune roses, blue mist spirea or butterfly bush. Early pruning may instigate new growth that could be killed by a cold snap. Also do not prune any spring-flowering shrub until after it has bloomed.
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