Do some limbering-up exercises, and then get out there and gather up all the limbs. This has been a rough winter, so there’s a lot of tree trash all over everything. Send the large pieces off to friends who have a fireplace or pit; medium pieces make great kindling for those same friends or can be bundled (no longer than 3 feet) and put out for trash. Smallest flotsam and jetsam can be used as the base for your newest compost pile.
Assess the situation. Now that you’ve cleared away the visual distractions, you can start to see what’s really going on. All those branches came from somewhere — will those trees need some judicious pruning to remove jagged edges and half-hanging appendages? Do the shrubs they fell on need to be cleaned up of damaged pieces? Was there enough damage to warrant removing now-dangerous trees? Talk to your neighbors about their woes as well; tree-removal folks will often give substantial discounts if they get multiple jobs on the same block because they have to bring out the heavy equipment only once. And grab some of the resulting chips for mulching pathways.
Rake up the junk around bulbs. So far, the crocuses are out there, a month late, and daffodils are finally exploding. Tulips seem to be holding back but pushing up buds. And there’s some really blue thing blooming at the end of the yard. Unless we get another spell of 20 degrees, they’ll all be fine. They are as sick of this on-again-off-again spring/winter tease as the rest of us. Let’s be released from last year’s baggage so we can fluff out our feathers, green up our leaves, and fully welcome spring in all our color and splendor.
Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (phsonline.org) and a co-owner of Cobblestone Krautery (www.cobblestonekrautery.com).