Spring garden cleanup tips

ciLiving.TV

Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Spring Garden Cleanup Tips from Ryan Pankau, Horticulture Educator

• It is important to consider insects when cleaning up your garden spaces each spring
• There are insects that are “good guys” and “bad guys” and it pays to consider both in your cleanup habits.
• Worldwide, we are seeing dramatic declines in good insect populations due to human impacts
• Native insects are an important part of native ecosystems and many populations of both plants and animals will collapse without insect life.

Cleanup tips:

• Landscape gardens and yards- most insects that use landscape spaces we consider “good guys”
o Avoid these common cleanup activities until until nighttime temps are consistently over 50°, which is usually early to mid-May

Leave standing dead stems in the garden

• As an alternative to cleaning up everything, just cleanup a few high priority areas and leave out of the way areas for the insects
• Focus cleanup at bed edges, leave the middle
• If you must cut back stems, leave them about 15 in tall

Leaves and twigs are habitat, leave them in place

• If you do cleanup, move them to another place on your property and loosely stack them until insects emerge for the season
Delay mulch applications in garden beds until ground nesting bees can emerge for the year
• Areas of bare soil are excellent nesting sites, try to maintain some areas with no mulch cover for ground nesting bees Allow early spring flowers (dandelions, violets, clover) to bloom in lawns since they are needed floral resources for pollinating insects
• Vegetable gardens – most insects in vegetable gardens, we consider bad guys or pests
o Vegetable production areas need to be cleaned up prior to insect emerge to limit pest populations
Remove dead stems from the garden
Cleanup dead plant debris on the ground
Remove any old fruits
Remove plant support structures until needed later in the season
Maintain weed control early in the season to provide less habitat for pests
o Consider adding pollinator hobbit, including native plants, around your vegetable garden since many pollinator are predators of pest insects

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