The flowering of Nanking Cherries marks the beginning of forking season.
Forking is one of the best ways to remove entire root systems of weeds, and to aerate and incorporate ameliorants. There is no better way to learn about root structure, bugs, soil composition and soil health. Primarily, because you work your way through the soil inch by inch, or centimeter by centimeter depending upon how exact you want to be. You stab the fork into the soil, pull out a lump, begin breaking up the soil, and pull out the invasive roots. I recommend calculating the addition of one inch of peat moss or compost to the soil. Add manure (usually just enough to cover the soil surface). The last ameliorant you will need is a tub of bone meal with added fertilizer.
In the event that you have very hard soil, add course sand. Mix grass fertilizer into your perennial or shrub beds.. This boosts the size of the plants and makes for a much more full looking garden. Don’t do it after May 21st, though, as you may delay flower development and throw off your timing.
Once the garden has been cleaned up and the soil turned and amended then you can start planting shrubs. For perennials, annuals that you have bought early, or tropicals that you might want to use in pots outside, you will need to harden them off first. For about a week you will need to put them in the semi-shade so that they don’t get sunburned. At night, they will have to be covered with blankets to keep them warm.
(Tropicals will have to come inside at night.)