Plant Solutions NJ Staff
Our best tips for how to get a New Jersey perennial garden ready for spring
Updated: Mar 24
It takes more than April’s shower to bring May’s perennial flowers into bloom. Although a nice dose of rain does help, a perennial garden—a collection of herbaceous and soft wood plants that come back year after year—will be at its best when you put in a little Weekend Warrior effort into its care and maintenance.
You’re busy with the kids’ soccer practice and dance lessons and your own never-ending to-do list, so what kind of effort are we talking?
Clean up debris
New Jersey winters can be windy, blowing leaves and trash onto your garden bed and foundation plantings. This debris is often layer upon layer of decomposing leaf litter, which smothers anything trying to grow up through it. Removing this litter allows young perennials to emerge in spring and also removes potentially diseased leaves left over from last year. This leaf litter can also act as a shelter for pests. Remove the leaf litter and your chances of pests and diseases decrease, too.
Trim perennials and shrubs
Cut back ornamental grasses and trim woody perennials, shaping the plant with your cuts and also removing any damaged branches (that goes for trees and shrubs, too!). Depending on the type of perennial, you may trim back stalks clear to the ground (such as with sedums) or trim to about 6-12 inches from the ground as with lavender, for example. The Growing Guide for each perennial category listed on the White Flower Farm page provides a good basic tutorial on trimming and maintaining.
Add a layer of mulch
We wouldn’t be doing our jobs as a landscaping company if we didn’t suggest adding mulch! Once debris is removed and the perennials and shrubs are trimmed, it’s time to apply a first layer of mulch.
Mulch keeps weeds down, holds moisture in the soil and can release nutrients back into the soil, depending on what type of mulch you use. Mulch does all of those things plus it makes your yard look refreshed after a long dull and drab winter season. You’ll never regret mulching.
Fill in empty spaces
With the beds and borders cleaned, trimmed and mulched, spaces that are bare will pop out at you as the perennials emerge—or don’t emerge. Losing a perennial plant happens now and then. Think of that loss and the empty space it leaves as an opportunity to try something new. Maybe your neighbor has a plant you’ve always admired. Or maybe you want to add a bird bath or even a fountain to that space. There are a number of plant and non-plant options.
Head over to your local garden center to see what catches your eye. And then ask us to help plant your new treasures. We’re happy to help!