If you left any perennials or grasses standing over winter, cut back the dead stems before or as the plants put out new growth.
Here's a hint: Cut dead stems back to 3 or 4 inches tall. This will help you remember where late-emerging varieties such as perennial hibiscus and butterfly weed are. Plus, the stubs may stop rabbits and other critters from nibbling on your plants' new growth.
Remove winter mulch from your perennial gardens once you notice new growth emerging from your plants. Afterward, watch for weeds. Early season varieties such as chickweed and henbit thrive in cool temperatures and may start sprout.
If you haven't already done so, now 's a great time to prune fruit trees (including apples, pears, and cherries) and fruits such as raspberries and grapes.
You can also go ahead and prune summer-blooming shrubs such as butterfly bush and rose of Sharon. Wait to prune your spring-blooming shrubs (such as forsythia and lilacs) until they've finished blooming so you don't cut off next year's flowers.
This is also the season to prune back roses. Typically, you'll want to cut hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses to about 6 inches tall.
If your landscape trees need pruning, now's the month to do it. (Except oaks; it's best to avoid pruning oaks right now to reduce the threat of disease.)
Continued on page 3: Divide Your Perennials