Spring Cleaning for your Garden

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox). Photo by Lisa Wilcox Deyo

By Lisa Wilcox Deyo

(March 26, 2018) - Spring is here and if you look closely you will see new green emerging from the ground. Soon woodland flowers and trees will start blooming. Weeds are also emerging and flowering. Now is the best time to identify and remove them, as their roots are just getting anchored and the soil is moist. Here are a few tips to keep invasive weeds and vines from overcoming your garden and trees.

Tips for keeping invasive weeds from crowding out perennials and strangling trees:

  1. English ivy climbing up tree trunks can literally suffocate a tree. However, if you pull it off the trunk, the bark often comes with it, which damages the tree. Cut the ivy at the base of the tree, and as it dries up, gently pull off the vines.

  2. Yank out weeds now when the soil is moist before the roots get anchored in dry soil. Apply a 2” layer of mulch to prevent new seeds sprouting. If you can’t pull the weeds out, then cut the flowers off so they won’t seed and continue to spread.

  3. Remember our lovely bird residents, who make spring so special with their merry songs. They are nesting now and fledgling birds will be emerging. If you need to prune a shrub or rip out a vine, please make sure there are no nesting birds. Perhaps reworking a garden area can wait a month until the main nesting season is done.

Lisa is a landscape architect and a director of Friends of Cabin John Creek.