backyard building blocks

Essential Spring Clean Up Landscaping Guide

March 23rd, 2021

Blog softscape pink flowers

Once we can put winter behind us, it’s fun to get outside and start planning our spring landscaping projects. Here are some steps to take to get off to a successful start to the planting season.

Start with an inspection
Those first warm days of spring are few and far between. There isn’t much you can do when you don’t know how long before the temperature dips again, so these are the perfect days to get outside and start making a list of your spring to-dos. Be sure to take note of:

  • Which beds need to be cleaned out
  • Any winter damage to plants, shrubs or trees
  • Any animal damage or new animal “homes” that need removal
  • Any shifted or damaged hardscape areas like a path, patio or wall that may need repair

Hardscape damage
Early spring is the perfect time to focus your efforts on fixing any hardscape problems. Most plants are still dormant, giving you extra space to work with. Level any uneven areas in paths or stepping stones, address any wooden damage to fences, trellises or window boxes and check for any damage that may require professional assistance.

If you plan on adding new raised garden beds, this is a great time to start assembling. You can also give any wooden elements of your yard a fresh coat of paint or stain.

Clean up those beds
When those first spring bulbs start to break through, it’s time to clean out those garden beds. Remove any leaves or remnants of last year’s annuals. Trim back any ornamental grasses and remove any fallen sticks or branches that accumulated over winter. Starting now will help keep pests away later.

It’s also a good time to clean any water features or bird baths in your yard. Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for items like fountains. For the rest, a solution of 1 part bleach to 5 parts water will clean and sanitize for the start of the season.

Check your soil
Before you spend money adding new plantings or vegetables to your garden, it’s a good idea to understand your soil composition. You may find there are nutrients missing that will impact plant growth. Conversely, there could also be too much phosphorus present, which would mean you should avoid adding phosphorus containing fertilizers. Check out this article from the University of Illinois for more information on how to test your soil.

Divide those perennials
As those perennials start to pop up, you may find you have too many in places. Now is the time to divide and transplant them to a new area. Moving your summer and fall blooming perennials now will keep your space looking great and avoid any disruption to the plant bloom cycle.

Plant some spring favorites
Here in Illinois, it is recommended that you wait until May 15th to plant most annual flowers. There are some spring annuals that can tolerate the cooler spring temperatures though. Pansies, some varieties of daisies and nemesias are a few favorites. Always check with your local garden center if you have questions and be ready to cover plants in case of a late season frost.

Trees are a wonderful addition to any yard. They can add much needed shade to a patio, help filter out pollutants in the air and can even feed you! Adding a few trees to your home may even increase your property value.

Planting trees in the spring allows for roots to develop all summer and fall. Be sure to supply adequate water to your new trees. Growing both new leaves and increasing its root system requires a lot of hydration. If you notice a newly planted tree dropping leaves after planting, it’s a sign that more water is needed.

Starting on your spring cleanup early and working in stages throughout the season will ensure your outdoor living area will be ready for summer.

Once we can put winter behind us, it’s fun to get outside and start planning our spring landscaping projects. Here are some steps to take to get off to a successful start to the planting season.