Chore schedule

Chore schedule 


Early spring

  •    March
    •   Remove any wisteria seedpods that you missed removing in fall or winter.
    •   Mid-March – move pots of  garlic that were stored in the garage for the winter back out onto the driveway.
  •    April- early May
    •   First week of April – plant pots of peas; choose varieties with different days-to-maturity in order to extend the growing season (days-to-maturity range from low 50s to 70+)  Peas need cool soil to germinate, so plant early.  Soak the peas overnight in water before planting. Ideally, just before planting, drain the water off and toss the seeds with inoculant meant for peas and beans.  Wear protective rubber gloves when working with the peas – the seeds are likely coated in fungicide.  Teepees of 6’ bamboo poles make good supports for the peas.
    • Move any pots of ‘mums that overwintered in the garage out onto the driveway.
    •   Cut back culinary sage in the herb bed on the south side of the driveway.  Cut back to just above the woody growth at the base.
    •   In the front bed, cut back previous year’s Siberian iris foliage as close to the ground as you can without cutting off emerging new foliage.
    •   In the backyard, cut along edge (where grass and path meet) of the rectangular lawn. Pull any grass roots that have encroached on the path.  Use stakes and string to keep the edge line straight.
    •   As above, cut along the edge of the path to south gate arbour and across ends of mulch path around front teardrop bed with half-moon edger or edging spade.  Pull any encroaching grass or clover roots.  (See related text sections for more details).  Just cut straight down to sever any grass and clover roots that may have started to encroach on the path.  Do not ‘trench edge’ as that will create a hazard for crossing from the path to the grass.  The packed surface of the path and the path material discourages invasion of grass and clover so it’s not difficult to just remove the few encroaching roots to make a crisp-looking transition from grass to path.
    •   Once leaf buds swell enough to be clearly visible, prune hydrangeas in all beds  to control size and shape them as desired.
    •   Once growth buds are visible on the Russian sage in the front beds, cut the plants back to 6” or so.
    •   Note where you might like more spring bulbs next year.
    •   Fertilize lawn with spring formula lawn fertilizer.
    •   Inspect brick edging in front garden.  Remove any grass or weeds that have found their way into the crevices.
    •   Prune potentilla shrubs to remove  at ground level 1/3 of the stems (choose oldest – thickest – stems to remove)
    •   Train new peony growth into the copper-tubing rings..
    •   Cut back ‘Queen Elizabeth’ rose in driveway border when new growth buds appear.
    •  Prune off any tip die-back on Angel and Oso Easy roses in the south driveway border and shorten canes by 1/3-1/2 if you wish.
    •   Fertilize all clematises with fertilizer formulated for clematises.
    •   Fertilize roses with rose fertilizer.  Spread ½ bag of composted sheep manure or several shovelfuls of garden compost around the Queen Elizabeth rose in the driveway border.
    •   Also spread compost or sheep manure at the base of the clematises on the south gate arbour.
    •   Do not mow the house side of the front ditch in spring to allow the bulb foliage to ripen so the bulbs will flower the following year.
    •   Remove a number of the ostrich ferns in the wet corner in early spring as you see the fiddleheads arise – they are spreading too fast – keep them confined to the SW corned by removing any that appear more than 4’ or so from the corner.
    •   In mid-late April, clean up the big ‘Paul Farges’ clematis on the fences at the end of the south alley.  Pull stems that have grown over the other side of the fence back to our side.  Strip off smaller stems from the larger ones, leaving a few bare, long, thick, old stems.  Cut some of the stems down, either to the ground or to the top of the chainlink fence.  (See pictures in the South Alley section above.)  Be careful not to cut down the ‘Ramona’ clematis on the chainlink fence just past the Paul Farges.
    • Once the last of the previous year’s oak leaves have fallen from the oak tree, chop the leaves that have accumulated against the south fence with a mulching leaf blower and spread the chopped leaves on the beds under the oak tree.
    •   If you noticed a decline in flowering on the north alley honeysuckles in the previous year, prune out some of the older stems.
    •   The clematises on the copper fence and the top end of the chainlink fence in the north alley can be cut back to the top of the chainlink fence (i.e. cut back to 3-4′).
    •   Pull any dead Morning Glory stems and foliage off the copper fence at the top of the north alley and off the lattice wall of the back porch lift.  There are too many seedlings – remove all or  the vast majority of them as you see them.  There are enough mature vines of other types now so Morning Glories are not really needed any more.
    • in all beds remove any old perennial stems that were not removed in fall.  Remove dead leaves (and and snails!) from around the hostas, heucheras, and any other perennials with new growth showing at the base.

Late spring (late May-early June

  •   Walk around the garden frequently – preferably daily – watching for ash tree seedling, buckthorn seedlings, wood sorrel, and garlic mustard weed.  Remove any you find.
  •   Inspect brick edging in front garden.  Remove any grass or weeds that have found their way into the crevices.
  •   Cut old-fashioned ‘mums in the driveway/moat border back to 6-8 inches twice before the first of July to make sturdy, bushy plants with lots of flowers.
  •   Snap off seedheads from tulips once the tulip petals drop or, preferably, cut the spent flowerstalk down to its base at soil level, leaving the leaves to feed the bulb.
  •   Plant tomatoes in the south driveway border when soil and air temperatures are suitable – last week of May or first week of June usually.
  • If emerging foliage on the Japanese wisteria hides the flowers, prune off the foliage that is hiding the flowers – see pictures in The Moat Bed section.
  •   Shorten all new wisteria growth to 6-8” as it arises.
  •   Watch for and promptly remove any wisteria root suckers.  Ideally tear the suckers off the underlying roots rather than just pruning them to soil level.
  •   If beans are desired, plant pots of pole beans in late May (soil must be warm or the seeds will rot – don’t plant too early.)  Soak the beans in water overnight before planting.  Ideally, just before planting, drain the water and toss the seeds in innoculant meant for peas and beans.  Wear protective rubber gloves when working with the beans – the seeds are likely coated with fungicide. Use an 8’ teepee of bamboo poles for supports in the pots for the beans – 6’ poles are not tall enough.
  •   Mow the house side of the ditch the last week of May or early June when the bulb foliage has died back.
  •   There is an excess of purple coneflowers in the front beds.  Remove some seedling clumps each year to control the numbers.
  •  Beginning in  2014 a leaf-mining pest attacked the leaves of Solomon’s Seal.  This continues to be a problem – you may want to remove some of the Solomon’s Seal  – or at least cut down at the first signs of damage

Summer – all months:

  •   Continue to patrol for weed seedlings, especially wood sorrel in the front beds.
  •   At least once a month, inspect brick edging in front garden.  Remove any grass or weeds that have found their way into the crevices.
  •   Snip off any euonymus stems that reach about deck level in the front porch bed.
  •   Shorten all new wisteria growth to 6-8” as it arises.
  • Train the stems of the euonymus plants flanking the iron arbour in the front bed to grow up the sides of the arbour.  Weave the stems into the cross-pieces of the arbour structure.  The goal is to eventually cover the arbour structure with this evergreen plant.
  •   Watch for and promptly remove any wisteria root suckers.  Ideally tear the suckers off the underlying roots rather than just pruning them to soil level.
  •   Give the porch bed a thorough soaking with a hose every 10 days or so, especially during drought periods.
  •   Whenever the ‘Silver Mound’ artemesias (in moat bed and various places at the front edge of the large front bed) get taller than 6”, clip then down to 4” with grass shears.
  •   Pull any lily-of-the-valley that reappears in the the garage bed and nearby lawn lawn, (and near the variegated weigela in the front bed).  Keep grass in the adjacent grass path mowed short to discourage the remaining lily-of-the-valley roots in the grass from growing.
  •   Watch out for lily-of-the-valley appearing under the pines in the backyard.  Remove any you see.
  •   Encourage the south alley clematises to climb the bamboo poles to reach the swag chains.
  •   Remove at ground level any lilac root suckers you see.
  • beginning in mid-summer, watch for leaf damage on Solomon’s Seal in the backyard.  Remove any affected stems at the base and discard into the garbage (do not compost them!)
  • Remove suckering regrowth on old willow stump by the shed whenever new growth appears – check weekly.
  • Cut back or remove plants or growth that brushes against you when walking along paths – that will help reduce the risk of picking up ticks if any are present in the garden.

mid-late June:

  •  Prune out 1/3 of the stems of the bridalwreath spireas, Beautybush and mockorange after they finish flowering in June.  Remove the stems at the base, selecting the oldest/biggest for removal each year.  If necessary, also shorten any particularly long remaining stems by 1/3-1/2.  (Note – since a robin set up a nest in the beautybush several years ago and the nest has been reused every year since, we have been keeping the beautybush trimmed like a small multi-stemmed tree – i.e. not cutting 1/3 of the stems out each year, but just trimming smaller ones while keeping the main stems that support the nest.)
  •   Feverfew in the front beds has served its purpose and now should be removed (and replaced with dwarf candytuft whenever you can find some to plant…)  Pull any feverfew you see.  You can leave the cuttings on the ground as mulch to compost in place as long as they are not in flower and ready to go to seed.
  •   When pea pots have finished producing peas, remove and compost the spent foliage.  Leave the soil in the pots as these pots if you wish to use the pots to plant a display of asters and ‘mums for late summer.
  •   Let a few of the lupin flowerspires set seed and drop to the ground to replace any plants that die out (they tend to be short-lived.)
  •   Deadhead the large lilac by the chimney, being careful not to cut off next year’s flowerbuds which develop at the base of the current year’s flowers.  The long-arm pruners are useful for deadheading the lilac.


  • Order any spring bulbs you may have decided to add to the spring display.  (I usually order on-line from Botanus in B.C. – good quality and good price).  More small bulbs will likely be needed to be added to the ditch plantings in 2011 and 2012.
  •   Remove faded tulip foliage once it can be removed with a gentle tug.
  •   Deadhead Rodgersia in front porch bed as soon as the flowers start to fade.
  •   After the early, large-flowered clematises finish flowering, fertilize again with clematis fertilizer.
  •   Make sure you deadhead the Sanguisorba and Knautia on the south edge of the front bed as they finish flowering, to ensure they don’t seed excessively.
  •   The Russian sage in various places in the front bed can get large and encroach on paths and the bench.  Do not hesitate to cut back any parts that are interfering with access – it might delay some bloom, but that just extends the season…
  •   Deadhead dwarf goatsbeard in north alley near the back porch, and in the oak bed, near the path leading to the south alley to prevent seeding.
  •   Deadhead the large goatsbeard in the wet corner if that one wasn’t deadheaded earlier.
  • Prune off stems of the mockorange (by the kitchen window) that flowered in the current year.  Also remove any straight root-suckers.   That will control the size of the shrub and encourage better flowering in subsequent years.
  • Watch for signs of Sawfly damage to Solomon’s Seal foliage.  Cut stems of any damaged foliage down to the ground and discard into the garbage (not into the compost bins!)


  •   Deadhead daisies and coneflowers down to next visible flower bud or, if there are no more flower buds on the stem, cut the stem to the ground.  Daisies no longer suit the garden and can be removed completely.
  •   When pole beans have finished producing, remove and compost spent foliage.  The soil in the pots can also be composted or spread as mulch in the front and driveway beds.
  •    The Russian sage in various places in the front bed can get large and encroach on paths and the bench.  Do not hesitate to cut back any parts that are interfering with easy movement along the paths.
  •   After the hibiscus flowers finish in late August-early September, deadhead the round seed capsules while they’re still green – you want to remove them before they turn brown, dry, split and drop their seeds.
  • If you are growing strawberries in pots, root runners from the current pots into the pots containing the soil from this year’s crop of peas (the peas add nitrogen to the soil – you can also mix in some compost before planting the runners.)  Dip the base of the plantlets at the ends of the runners into softwood rooting hormone, poke a hole in the soil with your finger, place the base of the plantlet into the hole, and firm the soil. At its base.  The runners can be planted quite densely.  Water well.
  • Continue to monitor Solomon’s Seal for Sawfly damage and cut back and discard foliage into the garbage as necessary.


  •   Chop fallen leaves with lawnmower or mulching leaf blower.  (The leaves can also be used whole, although they break down quicker when chopped.) Spread the chopped leaves on all backyard garden beds.
  •   Rake the paths in the woodland areas, raking the pine needles and fallen leaves into the nearby beds.
  •   Fertilize lawn with fall formula lawn fertilizer.
  •   Plant any fall bulbs you may have decided to add to the ditch and elsewhere in the garden.
  •   In late October, do a final inspection of the brick edging in front garden.  Remove any grass or weeds that have found their way into the crevices.
  •   Cut peony foliage (driveway border, front bed) to the ground and discard in the garbage pick-up (not into compost pile).
  •   Cut hibiscus foliage down to 6” and discard into the compost pile.
  • Cut Persicaria polyymorpha (front bed, oak bed, shed bed, under pines, north woodland, patio bed) down to the ground and discard into the compost pile
  • When wisteria leaves drop, remove any seed pods you see.  Brush fallen wisteria leaves off the edging bricks to prevent the rotting leaves staining the bricks.


  •   Keep driveway borders covered with snow when clearing snow from the driveway.
  • Jan. – Feb. order seeds for veggie garden (remember to choose 4-5 different pea varieties based on days-to-maturity, to ensure a long crop season).

Every 3-5 years

  •   Refresh path surfaces with mulch/sand mixture (1/3 concrete sand; 2/3 pine bark mulch – see Paths section of Backyard description, and pack down with water-filled roller. (The paths were last refreshed in spring 2014.)

Every 10 years

  • Get a tetanus shot!  Anyone who ‘plays in the dirt’ needs a tetanus shot.  If you haven’t had one, get one.  And get a booster shot every ten years.