While technically, winter is the shortest calendar season it can feel like a long, dreary marathon. But take heart, spring is upon us! The months from March to May, with their wide temperature swings and weather changes, require fast action to give your lawn the clean-up and maintenance that preserves home value and internal pride.
To help you plan and make the most of this unpredictable but delightful time of the year, here are 8 simple steps to get your yard off to a great start. Grab a sturdy pair of work gloves, wear clothes that can handle getting dirty and get ready to enjoy the day.
Here’s your first step in knowing whether it’s time.
First, here’s a quick way to tell if your yard is ready for action. Step on your lawn. If water shoots up or you leave footprints, it’s too early to start. Keep your mower idle. Fight the instinct to be the first in your neighborhood to cut the grass. Instead, this is a great opportunity to inventory the tools and equipment you have, repair what you can, replace what you can’t.
Once your tools are ready, it’s time to get started. So, ready, set, garden!
1. Remove downed branches and sticks.
Winter winds can wreak havoc with your trees causing assorted timber to accumulate around your yard. To make collecting the fallen timber fast and easy, use a wheelbarrow or yard cart, then bundle it up and bring it (if possible) to a yard waste site. Our CASTLECREEK Steel Garden Cart moves easily about and has a “Bunyon-like” 700-lb. capacity.
2. Rake up any leaves left over from fall.
It’s nearly impossible to rake up every leaf in the fall so spring is the perfect time to grab a light tined rake and get to last year’s hold overs. While harmless over the winter, leaves left can create snow mold and choke off new growth. As an extra benefit, you will also control thatch build-up.
3. Give a trim to trees and shrubs.
Springtime is all about new blooms, and proper trimming is the best way to achieve that goal, year after year. The type of trees, shrubs or bushes you have will determine the best time for you to trim. For early bloomers, such as lilac or forsythia, wait until they have finished blooming before you trim back. If you have beauty berry or lavender, trim now without fear of losing blooms. A great way to find information for your region is to call or search your state university extension service website and follow their recommendations.
4, Prepare flower beds.
If you used the leaves from your trees to cover flower beds, now is the time to get them uncovered. A fast way to get a majority of leaves collected is to spread a canvas or waterproof tarp out and rake the leaves directly onto it. Once you fill it, fold the corners in, and roll them up like a burrito for the trip to the compost yard.
5. Be open to aerating.
Aerating allows your lawn to rejuvenate by creating space for nutrients to make their way in. Machines can be rented at a local hardware store or you can use your ATV or riding mower with a Guide Gear Drum Spike aerator attached.
6. Cut back on the perennials and grasses.
I can remember taking a deep breath before having the courage to cut back our Forrester grass, but I’ve learned to trust Mother Nature’s renewal process on perennials and ornamental grasses. Also, don’t be afraid to dig up and divide plants such as daylilies and hostas to thin out overcrowded garden beds. It’s a great way to share your bounty and perhaps meet a new neighbor.
Liquid fertilizers provide a quick release of nutrients (and in some formulas weed control, as well) to the area being treated. A good tank and sprayer such as the Guide Gear ATV Spot Sprayer, will cover a lot of ground without refilling and be more precise about the area you wish to treat. Plus, it drains easily for cleaning or changing formula, as well as the ability to buy the specific mix you need for your area,
8. Give ‘em the needle.
While there may be some benefit to using pine needles as a mulch for gardens, they also carry a great risk of being a fire hazard if not kept properly moist. Either way, it’s best to collect them and if you have a good number of trees, make the task easier with a Guide Gear Pine Straw Rake attached to your ATV.
For years, I have maintained that even though I am no great shakes as a gardener, at the end of a day spent raking, sweeping and hauling, I have surprised even myself with the visual reward and satisfied feeling after a good solid day of effort. So go ahead and get started. Then, enjoy the rewards of a beautiful yard this summer.