We may all be stuck at home right now, but going outside to tend our gardens hasn’t been canceled. In fact, many of us may have a little more time than usual to spend in our yards. If you’re anything like us, as soon as the snow finally melts from your yard you’re itching to start planting. But before you can do that, your lawn and gardens will need a bit of “spring cleaning” to prepare them for the growing season. To get you and your plants off to a good start, we’ve compiled this spring landscaping to-do list.
1 – Remove Leaves & Debris
Even if you do the bulk of your yard cleanup in the fall, you’ll still have some work to do in the spring. We recommend doing the following:
- Pick up any litter that found its way into your yard over the winter, as well as any dog waste.
- Rake up dead grass, leaves, and other lawn debris.
- Remove dead leaves or stalks from your perennials and ornamental grasses using scissors or pruning shears.
Once all of this is done, you’ll be ready to prepare your planting beds.
2 – Prepare Planting Beds
In established perennial beds, pull weeds that have popped up and work some fresh compost into the soil (then reapply any mulch you’re using to protect them). While you’re at it, give the rest of your plants a little compost too – including your grass, trees, and shrubs – they’ll love it! If you don’t have compost you can use chemical fertilizers, but be sure to carefully follow the application instructions, as chemical fertilizers can burn plants if not used properly.
If you are starting new planting beds, you have a few options:
- use a tiller to break up the ground
- use a smothering method to kill grass
- build raised beds
- make landscaping berms
If you choose to break new ground, you’ll likely see weeds popping up quickly if you don’t prevent them. Use landscaping fabric or mulch to create a barrier to keep weeds at bay.
3 – Start Planting!
Once your beds are prepped, you can start some of your planting. Annuals and sensitive perennials will need to wait until the risk of frost has passed, but hardy perennials, trees, and shrubs can be planted earlier in the spring. You can also seed your lawn in early spring, unless you are planning to use a pre-emergent herbicide to control crabgrass (in which case you’ll need to seed in the fall).
4 – Pest & Weed Control
To prevent crabgrass and other weeds from taking over your lawn, you might consider using a pre-emergent herbicide. Crabgrass seed begins to grow as soon as soil temperatures reach 55-60 degrees, so you’ll need to apply the herbicide before this happens.
Controlling pests in your gardens is another project that begins in the spring (but as we know all too well, continues throughout the growing season!). Depending on which pests frequent your area, you may want to:
- spray for ticks
- install deer fencing and/or
- consider planting deer-resistant plants
5 – Prune Shrubs and Trees
Spring is a great time to prune. Begin by cutting away dead limbs and winterkill on branches (this is the easy part). Aside from removing dead wood, you may also want to prune some of the live, healthy branches on your shrubs to give them a more pleasing shape. This is trickier, as you need to make sure you’re not cutting off new growth or buds. For this reason, skip pruning any shrubs that bloom in the spring (forsythia, lilacs, etc), and stick to those that bloom later in the year such as lavender, butterfly bush, and beautyberry.
6 – Removing Mulch from Perennials
Keep an eye on your perennials in the spring, watching for them to reemerge. When they do, pull away any deep layers of mulch you had covering them so it doesn’t smother the growing plants. Start checking as the ground begins to thaw, and as soon as you have new growth, remove the mulch during warmer weather, replacing it again when it cools off. Continue this process until warmer temperatures are here to stay and the perennials are a few inches tall. At this point, you can remove the deep layers of mulch permanently and just apply a thinner layer of mulch around the new plants to prevent weeds.
This spring landscaping work will prepare your lawn and gardens for beautiful, healthy plants all summer. For tips on maintaining your yard throughout the growing season, see our recent blog post. And if you’re looking for a little help with your spring cleaning, our spring planting bed clean up services will be starting April 13th!
Go here for more information, and give us a call at 651.755.7901 to get on our schedule.