Don’t Be Too Quick To Clean Up In Spring

It’s mid-March. Next week is astronomical spring, otherwise known as the vernal equinox. If you’re lucky, you have some signs of spring coming up in your yard or somewhere nearby.

I must encourage you, though, please don’t be too quick to tidy up in the yard. We gardeners are a manic bunch, aren’t we, hating to see even a leaf out of place? What is it we think might happen?

Please leave some of the leaf litter in place until some real warmth takes place and holds awhile.

This would be the same for some plant stems–if you left any in the garden in the fall.

Why am I asking you to leave your garden messy? Simple. There are “things” living in the leaves and the plant stems that need time to emerge and find new homes. If you clean up leaf litter too early,  you might be destroying overwintering butterfly larva, or worse yet, the lovely mourning cloak butterflies that are sunning themselves there.

If you cut down and discard hollow plant stems, you might be discarding all sorts of beneficial bugs, including valuable native bees.

When we talk about all the “good bugs” in the garden, these are the ones that you want. If you’re not seeing them, ask yourself if your clean-up practices might be accidentally contributing to their demise. You surely wouldn’t want that.

On a warm spring day, go outside and take a walk instead. That will help you get over the urge to tidy too soon–and you won’t feel too lazy!


2 thoughts on “Don’t Be Too Quick To Clean Up In Spring

  1. tonytomeo March 18, 2018 / 12:39 am

    Pruning of frost damage should also be delayed (although probably not this late) so that it does not promote new growth that could be damaged by later frost.

  2. gardendaze March 18, 2018 / 6:34 am

    Excellent point. Thank you for pointing that out. Lots of folks here prune in the fall. While there’s nothing technically wrong with that practice (provided of course that you do know which plants bloom on so-called old wood) we do have wacky enough weather to actually cause later growth. One of my posts from a few years back shows confused forsythia blooming in December. So late fall blooming would also be problematic around here.

    Thanks for the tip, Tony!


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