While any hint of spring encourages all gardeners to get back outside and start work it is possible to be a little over enthusiastic at this season. If you are not careful this can result in doing more harm than good. This article by Lynne Cherot which I found on her Sensible Gardening website lists four mistakes that it is all too easy to make at this time of year.
With slightly warmer temperatures and a few periods of sunshine over he last few days, our snow cover has really retreated. It?s always a bit amazing how fast that blanket can be replaced with soggy, leaf cluttered earth. For the first time this season I had my garden snips in my hand and took a long stroll throughout the garden. As anxious as I am to get right in there, I reminded myself of the potential damage I could do.
As long as your soil is still soaking wet from the spring thaw you should not be stepping into your flower beds. Walking over your wet soil compacts it, removing the air pockets that plants will require later. This is especially true if your soil is on the clay side. Walk on it now and you will create a hard, cement like topping which will later be very difficult for plant growth.
If you have paths you can reach into your garden from this is fine. From there you can successfully cut pack perennials that were left in the fall. Cut dead stems as close to the ground as possible, however refrain form being overly zealous in your cleaning of the crown areas. There is always the chance in early spring of getting a killing late frost. The leaves and plant material around the crowns will protect the new growth coming up underneath. If you rake this all off, you are leaving the tender new growth shoots without any protection and they could be seriously damaged. It?s best to leave this type of finishing work for a bit later.
See more at Sensible Gardening