Winter weather can leave some plants in need of care when spring finally rolls around. Martha recently took stock of her Westport garden and found that her tree peonies required minor pruning of dead wood.
Check your shrubs for dieback (death of a shoot, beginning at the tip, due to winter damage or disease), and prune them after spring growth resumes but before the foliage has a chance to fill out. Use clean, sharp bypass pruners to remove dead wood down to the next healthy branch or shoot; this will improve air circulation and help prevent disease.
If you're considering removing a half-dead plant from your garden, check first to see if there's any resistance when you pull on it. Resistance indicates a healthy root system and could mean the plant has a chance to rebound. For plants that have outgrown their area, transplant them to another part of the garden, or divide them into several new plants.
As you're tending to your garden, collect trimmings in a basket to add to your compost heap. Then give your garden a much-needed boost of organic matter and incorporate compost throughout all your seeds.