It might sound bizarre, but it’s important to not just jump right in and start cleaning out the remnants of your garden as we roll from winter into spring (regardless of what the ground hog said). There are many very important insects that have been laying dormant that need time to revive before you accidentally destroy them and their habitat. Did you know that some types of monarch butterflies actually survive the winter in certain parts of the country in lieu of migrating to warm climates? They need to be protected as we move into spring.

So when should you clean up? The most important step you can take might be to delay garden clean up until full spring. Since spring weather varies across the country, when certain trees bloom can actually be your best guide.

When plum trees are blooming in early spring, some native bees will begin to emerge. However, other types of bees may not do so until the end of April when apple trees bloom. Over the last few years, important bee populations have been challenged, so this particular insect is very important when considering preservation.

Though this should be a consideration not just for insects but all outdoor creatures along with your pets that go outside, pesticides should be used sparingly. Even organic pesticides can still harm beneficial insects. Lawn pesticides are especially harmful to firefly larvae.

Leaving a portion of your landscaping covered with natural leaves will protect some insects that stay dormant until the end of June.

I know that I have always had a tendence to clean and mulch pretty early on but have now discovered that it’s important to leave some areas unmulched as many insects burrow deep underground during the winter and need time to emerge. Go ahead and lay down some compost but leaving the soil bare is crucial.

If you truly want to prepare your spring garden for maximum growth of your plantings while still protecting many valuable insect assets, take some time to explore gardening websites or if you’re like me, grab a book at the library, and learn specifics for your particular location. You’ll enjoy a beautiful garden and feel good about doing your part to protect even the smallest of valuable life forces!