1. Prune away dead and damaged branches. Where tree or shrub branches have been damaged by cold, snow, and wind, prune back to live stems.
2. Cut back and divide perennials as needed. Prune flowering perennials to a height of 4–5 inches and ornamental grasses to 2–3 inches to allow new growth to shoot up.
3. Clean Up Around Plants. Rake out fallen leaves and dead foliage (which can smother plants and foster disease), pull up spent annuals, and toss in a wheelbarrow with other organic yard waste.
4. Compost Yard Waste. Dump collected leaves, cuttings, spent foliage, and last season’s mulch into your compost pile, or make a simple corral by joining sections of wire fence (available at home centers) into a 3-by-3-by-3-foot cube.
5. Prep Damaged Lawn Areas for Spring Seeding. In colder climates grass starts growing in April, but early spring is a good time to test the soil’s pH so that you can assemble the right amendments. Remove turf damaged by salt, plows, or disease to prepare for the seeding that should follow in a few weeks.