SPRING FORWARD

Stone-path--winding-in-a-garden-000057793060_Medium.jpg

Springtime! In many parts of the country, the advent of spring means the eagerly anticipated melting of snow, longer days, birds chirping, and heavy winter jackets being hung back in the closet. The change of seasons also generally signals that it’s time to give your landscape a little attention so that you can maximize the health of and enjoyment from your outdoor living space when the warm weather finally decides to linger. Many homeowners know that spring means it’s time to focus on the landscape but they don’t know where to direct their attention. Here are some simple tips from landscape pros that will help you get you started in prepping your yard for spring. 

Assess and Repair

Winter can be tough on your landscape. Accordingly, the first step for ushering in spring is to see what damage was caused over the winter. Take a walk around your property to identify trees and shrubs that were touched by winter’s wrath. Broken branches should be pruned back with a clean cut to prevent damage from setting in.

  • Assess the health of your lawn and soil. If conditions aren’t favorable, depending on the type of grass you have, it might be prudent to fertilize and seed. Contrary to popular belief, not all grasses should be fertilized in the spring, however; some cool-season grasses do better when fertilized in the fall.
  • Check your hardscape. It’s not just the living part of your landscape that needs inspection. As spring approaches it is also a good time to see how your hardscape fared during the cold. Older masonry walls and patios should be inspected to see if any joints need to be repointed, or if there are cracked stones that should be replaced. It’s much easier to inspect your patio before you pull all the furniture out of winter storage.
  • Take stock of your landscape lighting. Are any of your fixtures burned out? Does anything need to be readjusted after the snows and winds of winter? If you have a lighting maintenance agreement with your landscape professional, he or she can add maintenance repairs to the list. Test out your irrigation system as well and make sure it is functioning properly.

Freshen Things Up

After the confines a long winter can bring, few things are more satisfying than watching the great outdoors spring back to life. Speed that sense of satisfaction along in your own landscape with an early spring cleanup. Begin by raking out the flower and garden beds, and if you don’t have permanent edging on your beds, give them a good, clean, spaded edge. To do this, push straight down at the edge of the bed with a flat-bladed shovel and then kick the shovel forward. The goal is to have a nearly vertical face where the bed meets the grass, then rising up at an angle on the inside. In profile, your edge cut should look like a checkmark. It takes a couple of tries to get it perfect, but once you do it’s easy to get into a rhythm.

Once the beds are cleaned and edged, a fresh covering of mulch helps tidy things up immediately. Be careful not to add too much mulch, though, as it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Generally, an inch-thick layer will be all you need for an attractive finish and one that will allow moisture to be retained in the soil. Be sure to pull mulch away from the bases of tree trunks and woody shrubs to prevent long term damage.

TLC for Your Lawn

Your lawn could probably use some love as well. The health of your lawn begins where the eye can’t see: in the soil. You should have your soil tested every few years to make sure it has the proper nutrients to help your lawn thrive. If your soil is compacted, it will be important to aerate. Core aerators are available at most rental supply stores, but be aware that they require a bit of effort to wrestle around a yard. Most lawn care experts provide this service. After aerating, topdressing with a fine compost and over seeding with grass seed will help your lawn to come in thick and full.

Once the yard is neat and tidy and prepared for good health, the fun of plantings – adding vibrant colors and rich and varying textures to the landscape – can begin. Spring is a wonderful time to be outdoors developing and enhancing the beauty of your landscape. With a little bit of effort, you can set the stage for a beautiful landscape throughout the spring and beyond.