Gardening: Winter Clean Up

Story and photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – Daffodil shoots are pushing up from the ground and signs of spring are already evident in Cary gardens.

Warm weekends in January may be your last chance for a winter clean up, so here’s a few tips to get yourself step up right for spring.

Dead Branches

The ice storms over the past few weeks left a number of dead branches dangling from trees and shrubs.

If you have any broken limbs dangling from otherwise healthy plants, clean them up now before they became a welcome doorway for insects.

Cut Back Tall Grasses

Many tall grasses need to be pruned back severely before spring. That means hacking off as much of the dead stuff above ground as possible.

In my yard, I cut back the giant Pampas Grass and the equally giant Zebra Grass, both over 6 feet tall. Wear gloves, as the leaves can be sharp-edged (particularly Pampas grass).

Too Soon to Prune

In case you were wondering, it’s really too soon to prune most shrubs. As noted above, remove any dead or damaged wood, but wait at least a month to trim for shape.

Dead Perennials

By now, all the tender perennials from last year are dead above the ground. Pull off the dead stalks of daylillies, sedum, marigolds or anything else that’s rotting in the garden.

Dead stuff adds to nutrition to the soil, but it’s also a shelter for pests.


If you’re ambitious, dig a little solid fertilizer into your garden beds. Be careful not to damage bulbs or tubers or anything underground.

Sharpen Tools and Replace Supplies

Get that lawnmower fixed before the big rush. Replenish supplies of potting soil and soluble plant food. I have a cracked house that’s definitely not going to make it one more season.

Take advantage of warm January days and get your Cary garden ready for spring.

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This month, the Garden channel on CaryCitizen is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Rd. in Cary.

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