After months of snow and ice, wind and rain, you must be eager to see the sun, hear the birds sing, and watch the gardens bloom. Well, the long wait is over and spring is here with us. Most gardeners can't wait to start prepping their gardens and tending to their beautiful flowers and plants. If you're excited to see the beauty and charm that spring brings forth, the trick is to start early preparation. But don’t put your seeds in the ground just yet, until spring has fully arrived. Here are essential tips to get you started.
Inspect Your Garden
Winter is hard on gardens and apart from being waterlogged, the harsh weather doesn’t spare most plants. Usually, when spring sets in, you’ll notice new growth all over your lawn but your yard will also be filled with broken branches and other debris, and some parts will be bare. First, you need a plan of action on what needs to be repaired. For instance, check out which plants, trees, or shrubs were damaged and create a to-do list on how to repair them.
Prepping Your Lawn Raking
The first step to preparing your lawn is to do some cleaning to remove twigs, leaves, litter, branches, dead grass blades that didn’t survive the harsh winter weather and other debris. A rake does this best and it also loosens matted grass clumps created by snow mold, which can prevent new grass from penetrating. Please note that it's best to rake when the soil is dry since if it's muddy, you risk pulling up healthy grass shoots. Gather the debris into piles and then rake the piles onto a large tarp to make it easier to drag the debris off the lawn. Alternatively, you can use air blowers which are faster and easier. Avoid lawn mowers at this stage since debris can easily get stuck and give you extra work.
Prevent Weed Growth
Weeds can easily take over your lawn if not thwarted early. You can use a pre-emergent herbicide that prevents seeds from developing. This makes it easier for you since you don’t have to deal with crabgrass and other weeds all season. Most types of pre-emergent herbicides are effective for around eight weeks, after which you’ll need to reapply again.
Re-Seed Bare Patches
If you notice bare patches on your lawn either caused by neglect, heavy traffic or the winter weather, you need to re-seed. First, loosen the surface to about two or four inches and level out the soil using the rake. Take a mixture of grass seed and compost and fill the bare spots. Ensure the seeds are firm before watering them. To prevent birds from foraging or rain from washing away the seeds, cover them loosely with hay. Depending on the weather condition in your region, overseeding might be preferable in fall or in late spring. In colder regions, spot-seeding small patches in spring works out great.
To nourish your soil and feed your grass, fertilize your lawn with a slow-release fertilizer. This allows the important nutrients to break down over an extended period of time so you don’t have to reapply fertilizer every so often. Timing is crucial here since if you fertilize too early, you risk feeding weeds, which will awaken with an aggressive force. For the most part, lawns do well with a 20-5-10 fertilizer, which means the fertilizer contains 20 percent nitrogen, five percent phosphate, and 10 percent potassium. If you prefer organic manure, you can use compost or mulch. If you have the “cool-season grasses”, then experts recommend using lighter feeding in spring and a heavier one in late fall. Like we mentioned earlier, the reason behind this is that if you apply too much fertilizer in spring, you risk giving rise to disease and weed problems.
Tune Up Your Tools
After the long lull, tools like pruning shears will need sharpening and cleaning. Check your irrigation system and make sure that it works. Your lawnmower is no exception and if it doesn’t start right away, then you might have to replace some parts or clean out its components. Likewise, a dull blade will damage your grass. Therefore, be sure to check the blades to ensure they are sharp to properly cut the grass. On the other hand, if your lawnmower is old and worn out, you may want to replace it.
If you want a fuller, thicker lawn, mow every five days for the first six weeks of spring. Most homeowners mow only once per week and this can impede the growth of grass. Another thing, don’t cut the grass too short as this can weaken early-spring grass plants and cause stunted growth. To avoid this, raise your mowing deck to the highest setting so that you can trim the grass about three to four inches high.
Other Important Factors to Consider
- Thoroughly soak your soil before putting new plants to the ground. This will keep the soil slightly moist until the plants become stable.
- Check the pH of your soil to determine the best types of plants that will do best in that particular soil. For example, astilbe, heather, and azalea do well in soil with 4.5 to 6.5 pH level.
- You also need to consider the drainage of your soil. If you plant in heavy clay soil, your efforts will backfire. However, you can remedy this with raised beds filled with healthy commercial garden soil. • Make your garden more exciting and beautiful by designing an attractive landscape that includes a cozy seating place, archways or any other fascinating work of art.
- Plant seed- and fruit-bearing plants like salvia, sunflower, cotoneaster, and zinnia to attract birds. Most people like to include a birdbath in their gardens to also help get rid of harmful bugs.
- Trim the Trees. You don’t want dry and dead branches falling off unexpectedly and endangering you, your property, family or pets. Get up there and trim all the dead and damaged branches. If you can't do it yourself, consider hiring an expert tree trimmer to safely prune your trees every once in a while.
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