Early spring, after the snow has melted but before you being planting fresh flowers for the season, you have an excellent opportunity to do a little outdoor spring cleanup to prepare your lawn and garden for the year ahead. When you can step onto your lawn without finding squishy, muddy ground, the time is right to get a jump start on your gardening season by clearing out the debris from the year past.
Before you begin attacking the job of spring yard cleanup, you should inspect the yard for baby wildlife. Rabbits build nests in small depressions in the ground. Gently part tall grass and weeds, and look for fur-lined holes. Squirrels' nests resemble balls of leaves wedged in tall trees. If you find an animal's nest, the best plan of action is to leave it alone. This gives the baby animals the best chance of survival. Do not mow or rake over that spot. If you feel that you must move the nest, contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center for advice on the best method.
Work around the edge of your flower beds with an edger, cutting about 4 inches into the bed and removing the soil and roots. Then, rake across the tops of the beds to remove dead plants and last year's mulch. Piling new mulch on top of the old can actually suffocate the plants in your garden. Trim up shrubs and bushes that have been neglected over the winter. Rake up dead leaves and other debris that may have accumulated throughout the yard. If you compost, this debris can all be added to your compost pile. If not, check with your local waste management services to find out if special spring pick ups for leaves and other organic matter are offered.
Give your lawn a good once over with a lawn thatcher or rake. A manual or power aerating tool can be used to remove sod plugs from your yard. Spread a layer of peat moss over your clean, aerated lawn using a rake. Seed any bare or sparse areas of the lawn. If weed control is a concern, now is the time to apply a pre-emergent weed killer, though you should not apply weed killer to the spots that are freshly seeded. Once you've prepared your lawn for the season ahead, tackle your tools as well. Sharpen or replace the blades on your lawn mower, and clean and sharpen other garden and lawn care tools for a fresh start this spring.