Time to break out of your winter cave, the weather is finally starting to warm up! Dig deep into your drawers and find your landscaping clothes, because things are about to get dirty.
Here are 5 landscaping tips you should put into your arsenal after this year’s rough winter to get your spring project plans rolling and to quickly improve the appearance of your property, increase the value of your home and – best of all – make your neighbors jealous!
1. Clean up
Before anything significant gets underway, the first thing that has to be done is an extensive cleanup of the lawn, garden areas and planting beds. Fallen branches should be picked up. Leaves in the lawn and garden areas should be removed, and any other areas you plan on working in should be cleaned out. Pampas grass, day lilies and dead hostas are common grasses and plants that should be cut back or pulled out for new growth to come in.
2. Plant and feed
If you plan on planting new grass seed or installing sod, make sure you do not apply any pre-emergent with the early spring lawn treatment. The job of pre-emergent is just that, preventing anything new from emerging, which includes new grass seeds! Simply apply a standard balanced fertilizer in the areas you would like to seed in.
In cooler climates and the upper Midwest, it can sometimes be more effective and reliable to only seed in the fall. If this applies to you, then I advise you to apply a crabgrass barrier pre-emergent plus fertilizer to the lawn this spring. Crabgrass and foxtail reveal themselves soon after the ground temperatures change, and we need to keep them away!
For all plants and garden vegetables, make sure the soil is in the proper condition for planting. I would advise a soil test before planting anything to make sure you know what nutrients the soil is deficient in. A soil test can be taken to your local extension office, where an analysis will be done to let you know what to do to restore your soil to ideal planting and growing conditions.
Add organic matter or compost to the soil at the time of planting to improve the soil structure and to promote deeper roots. This will mean less stress from insects, disease and heat. It will also result in a lower water bill, as you’ll need to water these areas less. You can purchase potting soil or compost from any nursery, or you can create your own by collecting lawn clippings and sprinkling them over your garden.
3. Sharpen your mower blades
For all you do-it-yourselfers out there, this is the most important maintenance you can do to your lawn mower to promote a healthy lawn! If you plan on doing this yourself then make sure to remove the spark plug before attempting to take the blades off. If working on your equipment is not your cup of tea, you can take the mower down to any lawn and garden store, and their professionals can perform the service for $20–$30.
Sharpening your mower blades assists the mower in slicing the grass rather than tearing it. Tearing the grass blades can cause an unsightly tan or brown color to a freshly cut lawn. Torn grass is also more susceptible to fungus and other diseases that can be costly to remedy.
4. Set a higher mowing height
Proper mowing techniques are the most responsible factor in keeping your lawn healthy and green. Make sure to mow your grass high. For warm-season grasses like Bermuda or St. Augustine, the height should be between 3/4 inches to 1-½ inches after being cut. For cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass or fescues, the height should be 2-½ inches to 3-½ inches high after being cut. Remember to adhere to “the 1/3rd rule” and never cut more than 1/3rd of your grass off at a time, or you will cut out all the green and only leave brown stems behind.
Apply a 2-4 inch top dress layer of fresh mulch over all beds to help reduce the amount of weeds that will pop up and really accent the lawn and your home. Any weeds that have emerged after the mulching should be hand pulled or sprayed with a glyphosate product like Roundup. Natural remedies for non-selective weed control would include basic household vinegar. Be very careful not to spray any desirable plants or grass, as these products will kill everything they touch.
And there you have it. Follow these 5 tips and you will be well on your way to freshening up a gloomy, post winter landscape into a pleasant and colorful spring haven.