Spring is after all, when I usually do most of my yard cleaning, not fall. Partly because I am busy and partly because I am lazy (or at least would rather be doing other things), I am pleased that there are many ecological benefits to letting spent perennials and small leaves decay naturally over the winter. Gardens that are not cut down and raked up of all debris in the fall are better for your soil and the dried seed heads and stalks of perennials offer birds and hibernating insects a late winter snack. This is not just good for wildlife, but also good for the plants in your garden. Besides, plants like ornamental grasses and dried hydrangea flower heads look pretty dusted in snow.
The leaves that were strewn across my garden beds have also shrivelled to the point that they are no longer an eyesore--well sort of. There are simply other eyesores -bigger ones-that capture my attention more, but they can't be done now, not until the softened ground is a little sturdier- when it doesn't leave a footprint after walking on it is the advice most often preached. So thankfully, it is still too early for yard work so I can read. Despite this, chores are calling to me in the garden, a garden that just last week was still covered in snow.
Here's my mental list so far: cut back to the ground all dried perennials like the peonies, once flattened by heavy snow, that have flopped onto the boxwood hedge and the ornamental grasses which will, sooner that I can find time to get outside again, be sprouting new foliage. When fresh spring foliage mixes into existing, dried miscanthus foliage it will be too late and impossible to cut back so this job takes priority. Once new growth starts up again, the boxwood hedge will also need its yearly trimming to keep it looking tidy. There is also the lawn around the garden to re-edge. This job-and it is a job due to the size of my garden--is best done early in the season while I can cut into it like butter rather than waiting too long when ground is much harder to cut through. When timed right, re-edging is a good day's workout, but very rewarding since the garden looks superb with a sharply cut edge. Then there are dead branches to prune out, young weeds to pull and I can't forget the rain barrel to set up and (Ugh!) the overflowing compost to clean up. Maybe this one can be delegated to kids.
Yes, gardening can be hard work, it is a labour of love for sure. But it's not all labour. After spring chores in the 'off' seasons, I can sit in my Muskoka chair and lounge with a good book knowing all the work that is behind me. Until I start spot another weed...