March is notoriously unpredictable. Shrubs can be crusty with snow on the first of the month, and then, a couple of weeks later, temperatures can warm up enough for flower and leaf buds to show signs of life.
Still, some early spring cleanup tasks are sure things this time of year. Pruning (for summer-bloomers) and dividing (for late-flowering perennials) are two such tasks. It’s quick work, but pruning and dividing are among the most neglected tasks of homeowning. Why? Because for most, it’s a black art. The risks of butchery seem high, and the rewards low. “But it isn’t difficult,” says This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook. “And what you get in return is thicker foliage, more flowers, and healthier plants.”