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Treat your plants to some TLC. Check for dead branches or winter damage and prune them cleanly. Trim perennials or grasses that have been left through winter. Formal hedges benefit from a trim and look clean with manicured, straight lines.  This can be done by hand with shears or using powered trimmers. All’s clear now to rake leaves (including the ones left on top of shrubs), debris and clippings.

Lawns love spring because they get tons of attention again. Rake out dead grass blades and debris from your lawn then use an aeration tool to remove plugs of soil.  Once the turf is aerated, then you can re-seed bare patches using a west coast seed blend. We’ve found that Kentucky blue grass blends perform best in our conditions. High rainfall in Vancouver causes soil below lawns to become acidic. Apply lime and a spring fertilizer after all the prep work.

Spring is the perfect time for pruning deciduous shrubs that reward you later with a vigorous show of flowers or colourful new branches.  Shrubs such as Buddleja (butterfly bush), Cornus (dogwood) and Cotinus (purple-leafed smoke bush) get cut right back to where they come from for a grand show in summer.  Hydrangeas will greatly benefit from having one third of existing branches cut out. Remember, on remaining branches, to leave the top buds that were formed last year as they are this year’s flowers.

Next, get the weeds out while they’re babies.  The monster weeds of summer are easily avoidable. While working through garden beds, cut a nice neat edge in the lawn for an estate-worthy look. Top up with compost or bark mulch and summer will be a breeze.  Adding mulches helps conserve water (join a growing gardening movement) and suppress weeds while adding nutrients to the soil.  Now that’s what we like to call a gardening triple threat!

This year may well be the year of the front yard.  Green thumbs are creating gardens out in the open to add to the neighbourhood’s beauty or to use spaces where the sun shines best for growing vegetables.  Whatever your style of garden, the plants and your lawn will reward you for your early season efforts.