Here's an article from Toronto Master Gardeners to explain what needs to be done:
Spring clean-up is an annual event. It can begin as soon as the soil is dry enough – it should crumble in your hands, not stick together in clods. This gardening guide lists all of the activities related to cleaning garden beds and sprucing up the lawn.
Gardening in the spring can be very pleasurable. It is recommended that you not attempt to complete all of this work in one day.
1. Matted leaves can smother your emerging plants. Clean beds by removing clumps of leaves by hand. Be careful not to damage new sprouts. However, if you have shredded your leaves the previous fall, leaf mulch left on the beds will result in organic matter being added to the soil through decomposition.
2. Compost what is left of last year’s annuals. Soil from last year’s pots and planters can be used to top-dress beds, or added to the compost pile.
3. Remove what’s left of last year’s top growth and seed heads. Cut back ornamental grasses in early spring as new growth appears. If last year’s growth was diseased (i.e. powdery mildew) do not put in compost.
4. Replant any perennials that have been heaved out of the soil exposing their roots e.g. Heucheras/Coral Bells. Divide mature perennials and ornamental grasses, as needed or desired.
5. If needed, transplant existing shrubs before they leaf out in spring. Prune shrubs to remove dead, diseased and crossed branches. To shape, cut the longest, awkward stems back to just above an outward facing bud. If the shrub flowers in the spring, (before mid-June), prune it after it blooms. If it flowers late in the season, (after mid-June), prune it early in the spring. To rejuvenate a mature or old shrub, remove a third of the oldest stems from the base of the plant every year for 3 years. These are usually the thickest stems. This will allow sunlight into the middle of the plant and encourage new growth. Do not remove more than 1/3 of the stems each year.
6. Remove and store any tree wrap/guards and burlap that were used as winter protection.
7. Many weeds can be controlled during spring clean-up. They are easier to pull out when young and the soil is moist. Look for the ones that were bothersome last year. Watch for “volunteers” of desirable plants. Edit out those in the wrong place.
8. Mulch open soil areas using such materials as compost, shredded leaves, fine bark chips or straw to about 2 to 3 inches of thickness, to minimize the spread of weeds.
9. The soil in existing beds can be improved by top dressing with organic materials such as compost, shredded or composted leaves or well-rotted manure to existing beds. Spring is also the time to add slow release nutrients such as bone and bloodmeal or granular fertilizers.
10. Rake the lawn to remove thatch, leaves and other debris. Recutting the lawn’s edges in the spring will encourage a clean edge through the growing season. This improves the overall appearance of your lawn and helps to keep it from invading adjacent flower beds.
11. If you missed seeding last September, or have bare patches, spring is the second-best time to seed a lawn. Top dress with compost or purchased soil such as a triple mix (loam, peat and well-rotted manure). Keep newly seeded areas moist.
12. Fertilize the lawn with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer:N (Nitrogen) – stimulates lush green growth of leaves and new shoots and promotes dark green colour
P (Phosphorus) – promotes development of strong healthy root system and setting of flower buds
K (Potassium) – aids in the overall strength of stems and roots and resistance to disease
13. Once the season has progressed far enough to require the lawn to be cut, be sure to establish good ongoing lawn care practices. Specifically, cut the grass long (at least 2 & 1/2 inches); leave clippings on; water deeply, less frequently (1 inch of water per week); and pull weeds as they appear.Hand trim the lawn around trees; or, even better, replace the grass around trees with ground covers to avoid the risk of damaging the tree trunks while cutting the lawn. Create ditch edges or a mowing strip edge (brick or stone laid level in sand) to hold the mower wheel as you cut along the edge.
14. As you are doing your spring cleaning in the garden, observe the microclimates in your garden or lawn area. Which areas are damp and the last to thaw? Which are in full sun, partial shade or full shade? Are there areas that retain moisture throughout the growing season? Use this information to help when you select new plants for specific growing conditions. It may also prompt you to consider moving plants to more suitable locations. You should also consider which plants will need staking and put support in place early.
15. Spring is also a great time to check your tools. Clean, repair, or replace them as needed. Sharpen and clean the lawn mower.
Time-Life Books Inc. Complete Guide to Gardening Landscaping. New York: St. Remy Press, 1991,
Hole, Lois. Lois Hole’s Perennial Favorites. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: Lone Pine Publishing, 1995
Date revised: January 2012
Garden Design Landscape Services in Toronto
Contact Gardens by Bonnie
By phone: 647-854-5595
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW CLIENT? Let us help you get an estimate quickly!
NEW CLIENT PROCESS for GARDENING PROJECTS– (NEW CLIENT for a general garden clean-up or heavy weeding job, see below)
• NEW GARDEN DESIGN
• NEW BUILD including NEW PLANTING and/or SOFT HARDSCAPE INSTALLATIONS
• PLANT and/or SHRUB PRUNING or REMOVAL
We follow five steps to quickly provide new clients with an estimate for PROJECTS (see above):
1 - Photo’s 2 - Phone call 3 - Site visit 4 - Estimate 5 - Timeline
1. Photos: Many factors are involved in quoting for garden work, cleanup, garden design, renewal, or maintenance. To speed things along, I initially ask clients to email me some pictures of the areas they would like to address.
2. Phone call: Once I have an idea of the current condition of the garden, the size etc. I talk with the client by phone to discuss their plans. This saves time, so that before making a trip to see the property, I can provide a rough estimate for the work, to help clients understand what they might need to budget, e.g. "This will need approximately xx number of hours’ labour, approximately $xxx for plants, $xxx for removing garden waste if required, you're looking at about $xxxx.
3. Site visit: If the client would like to move forward with a project (see above) I visit the property. (Client may or may not be present, I just need to take a close look and measure any areas to be addressed.) Cleanups and smaller jobs don’t generally require a site visit to provide a labour estimate.
4. Estimate: At this point if both client and I have a clear path on what is to be accomplished, I provide an ESTIMATE including a brief OUTLINE of the work to be done. A design can be provided if a complexed change/addition is to take place. The estimate & outline include materials, delivery, & labour. The labour is an estimate with a plus or minus of 20% of time needed. The material prices are firm.
5. Timeline: Once the client agrees to move forward we secure a time line and try to include a guaranteed completion date whenever possible. As weather can play a factor in timing, if deadlines are tight we quote a “best case” completion.
NEW CLIENT for a general garden clean-up or heavy weeding job
1. Email is the fastest way to contact me during the busy season - email@example.com. Simply send some pics of the areas to be addressed, if possible provide the garden area dimensions (e.g. 30 feet x 40 feet), along with your address or postal code so that I can confirm we service the area!
2. I will usually be able to provide an immediate estimate to give homeowners an idea of pricing. Pricing for labour is based on hourly rates. What new customers sometimes opt for is an agreed amount of time, to see how much can be accomplished. That way the customer knows what will be owed without worrying about additional amounts if it goes longer. If more time is needed the homeowner can decide to have it done at a later date.