23 Simple Spring Garden Cleanup Tips with FREE Checklist

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Being an avid gardener, I have some great spring clean up tips for you.

Now that the daytime temperatures are warming up, when I’m not blogging, I’m getting outdoors and into my garden beds.

a spring daffodil. When they start blooming I know its time for spring garden cleaning

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Early April Spring Garden Cleaning

We still have a little over a month before we can plant our annual flowers and vegetables.

While I can’t start putting new plants in my flower beds, it’s the best time to get them ready.

You might be tempted to start cleaning up in those very early spring days that are unseasonably nice but you should really wait.

piles of leaves and twigs that need to be cleaned up for spring

The leaf litter, dead plants, and hollow stems are home to beneficial insects like native bees.

Once we start to have consecutive days of warmer weather and I’m starting to see new growth, then I know it’s a good time to start cleaning up.

Here are the things that I have on my spring clean-up to-do list

  1. Pick up Fallen branches (we have a river birch and boy is it messy)
  2. Pull out dead plants from last year that got missed
  3. Rake-Up the dead leaves left from last fall. Be careful around tender plants
  4. Cut down ornamental grasses – I leave them up for interest in the winter months
  5. Start a compost pile or bin if you don’t have one already
  6. Spraying Deer Out on tulips, emerging daylilies, and budding trees like hydrangeas.
  7. Put down compost from your compost pile into your cleaned-up vegetable garden beds
  8. Add additional organic material to the bed if you don’t have a compost pile or need more fill. We prefer mushroom compost.
  9. Turn over the beds in the vegetable garden
  10. Lay down the irrigation system in the vegetable garden
  11. Cover the irrigation system with garden cloth
  12. Clean up greenhouse or shed
  13. Go over my plan for the vegetable garden that I worked on in late winter. Make any changes I can see need to be made once I’ve been out in the gardens.
  14. This is a time when your plants are still small to divide perennials if you want to create more plants. (You can divide – Daylilies, Hostas, coneflowers, grasses, irises, and black-eyed Susans.
  15. Great time to plant new shrubs, trees, and perennials
  16. This is a good time to prune shrubs. You can prune back any trees and shrubs that are still dormant. I pruned my hydrangeas back quite a bit last spring and had very few flowers so this year I’m just going to trim off any dead flowers and see what will happen.
  17. It’s crazy that the weeds are already raging! I start to pull weeds and invasive plants now and will continue through the entire growing season. It’s the best way to keep them under control and they are easier to pull out of damp soil.
  18. There are a few seeds that can go out in the garden in late spring before the last frost date. (larkspur, bunching onions, snow peas)
  19. Put your baskets or stakes around peony bushes
  20. It’s a good idea to take your soil for a soil test. If you want your gardens to be their best it’s important to know if your beds need additional nutrients.
  21. Order your mulch to be delivered after you will have your beds planted
  22. I started many of my plants from seed but there will still be some that I will need to buy. If I don’t get them even before I can plant them, they will be picked over. I buy them in late April/early May and keep them in my greenhouse. You can also keep them in your garage. Make sure to keep them watered and take them out in the sun when the weather is good.
  23. Edge your beds
staking for my peonie bushes which are starting to grow
Stakes around peony bushes

If you aren’t doing your own work, now is the time to get your name on the list at a landscaping company for their spring cleanup service.

I’m sure enjoying the end of winter and the longer days. There is nothing better than getting my hands in the soil.

My FREE Resource Library has had a facelift and while I’m not completely done, I figured if I didn’t hit publish now, I would never be compelled to complete it. There is a new password for those of you who already are friends of Living Large in today’s email.

I have a FREE spring cleaning checklist in the library just for you. Sign up to be a friend of Living Large in a Small House and you will have access to my Resource Library.

my favorite spring garden cleaning tool, an adjustable rake.

Gardening Tools

These are some of my favorite gardening tools for spring cleaning.

Spring Planting

Once my beds are all cleaned out and we make it past May 15th (our last day of frost in zone 5b) then it will be planting time. I typically do it on Mother’s Day even if it’s a few days earlier.

This is just some of what I will be planting.

Vegetable Garden

  • San Marzano Tomatoes
  • Big Beef Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Red Onions
  • Yellow Onions
  • Green Onions
  • Lettuce
  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Jalapenos

Tools you’ll need

Flower Garden & Pots

  • Amaranth
  • Strawflowers
  • Pincushion Flower
  • Cleome
  • Mignonette
  • Stock
  • Calendula
  • Delphinium
  • Sunflower
  • Zinnias
  • Poppies
  • Celosia
  • Queen Anne’s Lace
  • Lace Flower
  • Sweet Pea
  • Impatiens
  • Double Impatiens
  • Coleus
  • Ranunculus
  • Lisianthus

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body but the soul.

– Alfred Austin

my green house needs a good spring garden cleaning
My Greenhouse needs Spring Cleaning – How does it get so messy over the winter?

Other Spring Cleaning

Just as important as cleaning up your gardens is also cleaning dirty patio furniture. After a day of working in the garden, having a nice place to sit with a cold beverage is so enjoyable.

You might also be just as anxious to open the windows and get some spring cleanings done in your home. I did a cleaning and organizing challenge with many of my followers in February but now is a great time to get some other deep spring cleaning done.

Here are a few things that are on my list.

  • Wash Windows
  • Wash the Screens
  • Power Wash the Front Porch
  • Power Wash the House Siding
  • Change the heavy winter bedding out for lighter spring blankets
    • Keep your eye out for my spring primary bedroom refresh coming up soon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I remove the leave from my flower beds in the spring?

As I mentioned before you don’t want to disturb the leave and branches too early in the spring. They provide protection for hibernating insects that are good for our gardens.

You want to leave everything until you are getting consistently warmer weather.

Some people don’t remove them at all. I certainly don’t get every leaf but I like a nice clean bed for my leaf mulch which is much finer and prettier than old dead leaves.

How do you clean up perennials in the spring?

Basically, you just want to move away any debris from around the plant and take off any dead stems and leaves.

When can I start spring cleaning?

Typically the first day of spring (March 20th) but we were still getting snow and rain. It’s usually early to mid-April when it’s warm enough in zone 5b for me to get out and start cleaning.

lilac bush with buds
I was so excited to see that the lilac bush that I thought was dead is full of buds.

Spring has Sprung

We definitely have spring fever at our house but I can’t get too anxious.

It’s supposed to be 80 degrees tomorrow but we’ve had some of our biggest snow storms in April in Illinois so I can’t get too excited.

I sure am loving the little sprouts that I started in the house this year. What fun they have been.

Next spring it will be plants and a new crop of baby chicks!

Peace and Love,

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This week I had Lisa from Oak and Linen Home on my Podcast. Lisa lives in Arva Ontario Canada and is a lover of anything French Country.


Freshen Up Your Home for Spring

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  1. So many great tips! I still have quite a few to get done! I’m going to hire someone to do my windows this year!

    1. That is such a good idea to hire out the window cleaning.