KUSA - Within a week or two, I'll be discovering muscles I'd forgotten about. It's cleanup time in the garden again. With bulbs already emerging, it's time to clear the way for new spring growth.

The main objective is to cut back the dead foliage of perennials and pull up last year's annuals and vegetables. It you cut this debris into fairly small pieces when adding it to the compost it will decompose faster. Don't get too tidy; a layer of crumbling leaves benefits the soil.

Cut back most perennials right at the base. Some, such as lavender, santolina, partridge feather, thyme or rue should just be shaped to cut back scraggly bits and encourage bushy new growth.

I would hold back on pruning roses until mid March. Don't even think about pruning spring-flowering shrubs such as forsythia, lilac or quince or you will be cutting off their blossoms. The time to prune them--if needed--is immediately after flowering. They're generally best left to their own devices.

My garden takes weeks to clean up. It's a good excuse to get outdoors, enjoy a warm day, and dream of spring. With time, I'll be back in shape for spring planting.