Think of it as early spring cleaning. A few chores this time of year that will get your garden ready to bloom.
Barb Fick, horticulturist for the Oregon State University Extension Service, recommends a few tips to help make your summer flowerbeds healthy and beautiful.
* Remove heavy winter mulch from perennial beds after night temperatures stay above freezing to allow sunshine to warm the soil. Leave a thin layer of mulch in place.
* Fertilize established perennials, bulbs and shrubs with compost, bone meal or a 5-10-5 or other balanced synthetic fertilizer. Apply fertilizer to the soil surface and then carefully scratch fertilizer into the soil between plants. Cover fertilized area with a thin layer of mulch.
* Rake leaves and debris knocked down by winter storms. Add leaves to the compost pile and shred larger branches.
* Divide late-spring and summer perennials, including daylilies, lilies and early chrysanthemums, if they seem crowded or past their prime. Dig up root clumps and remove the old, woody part in the middle. Replant young, healthy sections in loose, fertile soil. Pot up any extras and give them away to friends.
* Check and repair arbors, trellises and garden fences.
* Make sure pruning shears and other cutting tools are sharp and clean.
* Consider replacing or moving plants that have not performed well in recent years.
Now reward yourself with a stroll through your local nursery. Every year, a parade of new perennial varieties can entice you to fill every conceivable spot in the garden. Make sure that any new plant you purchase will match the specific characteristics of the garden bed you have just prepared.