The snow begins to melt and it's the perfect time to putz around the garden (when it's warm enough!). If this is the first year your rain garden has been in place, this winter you noticed which plants disappeared and which provided winter interest. This spring your rain garden will likely surprise you with how much it fills in. But remember the old saying about perennials: "The first year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap." While this isn't universally true, the third year always seems to be a gangbuster year for many perennials. Even though you may be surprised by the growth in the second year, just you wait. Next year, you may be thinning.
But what about right now? Here are some end of winter maintenance recommendations for your rain garden:
· Consider leaving dried stems on the plants as long as they remain upright. This is about personal preference, but do cut the stems come mid-march or as soon as you see new growth.
· Pick up plant detritus from the basin of your rain garden and send it to the compost pile/bin.
· If you have grasses in your rain garden, trim them back to 2-6 inches by early March. You want to do this before new growth begins.
· Look now at your shrubs and trees and determine whether they will need pruning. This should be done while the plant is dormant (late November – March, depending on the plant). See the basics of pruning shrubs and trees in the videos from the University of Maryland Extension. Educate yourself or hire an expert when it comes to pruning, but be sure to do it! It assures the health and beauty of those plants that provide the structure of your garden and will bring pleasure for years to come.
Plant thoughtful, plant happy!
About the Authors:
Jenny Wienckowski and Zoe Clarkwest met at Morgan State University, Baltimore, where they both studied for their masters of Landscape Architecture. Jenny brings a strong permaculture, native plants, and New American design sensibility to the firm. Zoe enjoys community-based design and the first question she asks when she visits a site or property is, "Where does the water go?"