The sunshine and warm temp days entice us to get out and clean up the garden beds. Some gardeners are starting their seeds indoors. Others are making their wish lists for trying new varieties of plants and adding to their landscape. Many ask “What can I do in the yard now to take advantage of the nice weather?”

Walk Your Yard

In the excitement of which perennials are breaking ground, walk your yard and look for emerging shoots. The Hellebores in our Learning Gardens have new growth and many spring flowering bulbs are sprouting as well. Know that some perennials won’t show till later in spring, such as Plumbago and Hibiscus.

Look for low areas in your yard that may collect runoff water. This may be a good location for a rain garden.

Do you have an idea for a veggie garden this year, or maybe a new perennial bed? Make note of the direction each side of your home faces, and begin a wish list of plants best suited for those spaces.

Begin To Clean

Pruning trees and shrubs is something you can do now. Before they leaf out, the structure is easy to see. Follow these tips for best results.

By the end of March to mid April in Zone 5, weather dependent of course, is when you can begin to clear some of the debris and prune your perennial gardens. We encourage you to leave plenty of plant debris in place for a few weeks yet. The last frost date for our area is May 15. Your plants still need this layer of protection from wind and possible snow.

Leaves and stems may be raked out of beds, but leave some for nesting materials for birds. There are beneficial insect eggs and larvae nesting in the perennial plant stems and leaf debris. These are food for the early birds and some of the first butterflies you will see in your yard.

Cold-tolerant perennials such as hellebores can be cleared of old debris. Cut Russian Sage, Butterfly Bush, and Blue Mist shrub back to 6” to 8”, leaving some woody stems for new shoots.

Prune hybrid tea, floribunda and grandiflora roses back to the green growth and prune out any dead branches. Shrub roses, including Knock Outs, do not need to be pruned.

Bring Nature Home

We recommend using containers of cold tolerant annuals for curb appeal. Planters can be covered or moved for protection if nighttime temperatures fall into the teens. Perennials pots can be set in your decorative planters for early spring color as well. Once clear of the last frost and the soil is loose enough to plant, you’ll be ready to dig in.

You will find unique garden accents in our gift shops to bring the beauty of nature indoors. We also carry containers, stepping stones, benches, trellises, miniatures, and more so you can personalize your outdoor space to your needs and liking.

We open for our 86th season April 1! Our hours are 10am-5pm, 7 days a week at both of our Naperville and Aurora locations. Plants we have for sale in spring have been hardened off and can be planted once the soil is viable. Visit our Learning Gardens frequently to see mature plants in a variety of garden designs for sun, shade, and different soil conditions. We look forward to seeing you and hearing about what you are inspired to grow this year.