Here in Upstate New York, winters are long, so when it starts to warm up, it is time to start spring cleaning.  Preparing your yard and gardens for spring can be a lot of work.  Here are some tips for your lawn and garden.

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Clean, clean, clean!

The first step is to get started cleaning.  You will want to go through your yard thoroughly, cleaning out everything from leaves you missed in the fall, to leaves and trash that blew under bushes over the winter.  A shrub rake is a great tool for getting under bushes and into smaller spaces that need cleaning. This is a good time to stock up on a pile of leaf bags to get you through the spring, summer, and even fall.

Here are a few things you’ll want to do:

~ pick up sticks, trash, pinecones, etc.
~ rake your lawn – this will help to get up dead grass, pinecones, etc.
~ get into and around bushes, removing leaves
~ toss anything that needs to be decluttered – broken bird feeders, old garden art, etc.

Remove dead plant matter & weeds

In the spring, I go through my yard and get rid of dead plants and branches.

~ I start by cutting back dead branches.  This will make your yard look nicer and also reduce work that you’ll have to do in the future, as windy days can mean dead branches and twigs all over the lawn.  In some cases, you may need to wait, to see what branches are dead.
~ cut back dead plant matter from last year (such as hostas), or remove plants that are dead.  Again, if you are not sure if the plant is dead, wait to see if it starts coming back in the spring.
~ pull any weeds.  Make sure you get the roots!  Use a tool as needed so that you can get the whole plant.  I have a great stand-up weed puller that I use for dandelions – I actually walk around the yard with a bucket and get all the dandelions with it.

Have a plan for your lawn

One of the easiest things you can do for your lawn is to follow a four-step lawn care system.  You can usually purchase a system for 5,000 square feet or 15,000 square feet, and you get four bags that you put down at certain times (spring, summer, fall, winter).  This system will help keep weeds away and fertilize your lawn. You can usually get the set cheaper when you buy them at the beginning of the season as a set, but you can find them individually as well.

Check on your sprinkler system

Every spring, you’ll have to make sure that your sprinkler system is in working condition and make sure that everything is operating properly.  We have had various issues, from sprinkler heads that got damaged from snow plows to squirrels chewing the lines to the sprinkler box, and heads not coming up properly.


Clean up mulch beds, neatening them and preparing them for a new layer of mulch. You will want to get some heavy duty landscape fabric down before weeds start to emerge.