Friday, March 6, 2009

Top five priorities for the yard this spring

Warm spring like weather sure is welcome after the cold and snowy months of January and February. With thoughts turning to spring now is a great time to get started early in the yard.

My top five priorities for the yard this spring include:

  1. Clean-up: While not generally overlooked I do see people delaying clean up which makes the clean-up work more difficult. Get to the leaves, sticks and general debris early while all the plants are still dormant, including bulbs and perennials. Bed clean up is a snap now while the weather is cooperative.
  2. Pruning: The benefits of dormant pruning are numerous and I've written about them previously. Pruning "naked" plants now allows you to see more clearly what you're working on. Pruning before buds break will direct the plants energy into remaining plant parts creating a healthier. Now is your chance to do this work - don't miss out on this limited window of opportunity.
  3. Focus on the soil: Our urban landscapes contradict the natural cycles in nature. We rake up our leaves and other yard clippings and debris and deposit them on the curb for the city to scoop up and hall away. Yes, the city recycles the yard debris to create compost and leaf humus. But this natural cycle of decomposition is not happening in our own yards, and practically speaking I'm okay with having a neat, clean yard so I do the same thing. But what we must do then is replenish the organic matter by adding compost back to our bed and lawn areas. Organics like SweetPeet, leaf humus and compost contribute to a healthy, productive and active soil that allows plants to grow strong and healthy requiring fewer pesticides and fertilizers to keep things looking good. Focus on the health of your soil and it will pay dividends in the long run.
  4. Nutrients: Fertilizing this time of year before the spring growth is an ideal time to provide necessary nutrients to your lawn and plants. Your landscape plants and trees require different fertilizers from your lawn. In a tight economy people have a tendency to pull back on fertilizing because its an area they feel they can do without and you will not see the immediate results. My recommendation would be to adjust your program but do not eliminate it if you're looking for ways to cut back. The neglected lawn will cost more to renovate down the road then what you will pay now to maintain it.
  5. Seeding: It is still too cold to grow grass seed - but now is a great time to plant grass seed particularly when repairing damaged lawn areas. Rye and fescue normally take about 7 to 10 days and blue grass takes about 30 days to germinate in normal growing conditions. Putting the seed down early with good seed to soil contact now will get even the blue grass to germinate sooner than normal when the soil and air temperatures are consistently above 51 F degrees. When the warmer spring temperatures are here for good the new seed will pop up if we've had sufficient rain and snow fall. Less watering and quicker germination - can't beat it. Two drawbacks - A) seed left on the surface of the soil may wash out with heavy rains and you may need to seed again. B) Do not apply typical crabgrass pre-emergent control products with your first round of fertilizing or you will prevent your new seed from growing as well. You will need to use a product like Tupersan if you want to both spot seed and prevent crabgrass.

Get out into the yard and get going. There is nothing quite like a fresh, clean and neat looking yard to welcome spring.

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