The beginning of spring is an ideal time to get a head start on your yardwork. A little work now will spruce up the outside of your home, start your “spring cleaning” routine and make your summer yard chores easier.
Rake, Remove, Repeat
First, rake the entire yard. Remove all sticks, leaves, and dead vegetation. Remove debris from all flower beds, shrubs and trees and loosen the soil around each. Trim dead limbs from trees, shrubs and evergreens.
“It’s also a good idea to trowel in the old mulch from last fall and refresh with a couple of inches of new mulch in the spring,” says Lori Richardson of Horrocks Garden Center in Ionia.
Plant Trees and Shrubs
“Most plants are in full dormancy now, and now is the time for many garden chores,” continues Richardson “Now is a great time to apply a slow release fertilizer, such as Milorganite or Osmocote, to your trees and shrubs. This will allow your shrubs to have the nutrients they need before growth starts to occur.”
Richardson says spring is a great time to prune many trees and summer flowering shrubs. You will want to wait to prune all spring flowering shrubs until after they have bloomed, preferably within one month of the bloom. It’s also an excellent time to prune your roses and other perennials. Start by removing dead, diseased, dying, and crossing branches first. Then, prune to form a well branched specimen with optimum light penetration. Other perennials that will benefit from pruning now include butterfly bush, most spirea, ornamental grasses and liriope.
If you plan to add more ornamental borders or shade trees to your yard, now is the best time to plant them due to the variety available in the spring. But, you can plant trees, shrubs and perennials at any time of the year. When planting container grown trees and shrubs prevent large air pockets, which will hinder root growth, by loosening the soil around the roots. When planting balled and burlaped trees do not remove the basket or burlap, plant the entire ball, making sure that where the trunk meets the root ball is at ground level.
“Planting the balled and burlaped tree to far below or too high above ground level threatens the tree and it’s long term health,” says Richardson.
After you’ve planted the trees or shrubs, water them well to seal them in the ground.
If you have fruit trees, apply the first dormant oil spray before the leaves appear. The application will eradicate insect bores that may have taken up winter residence.
Feed with Fertilizer
Once all raking, soil preparation and pruning chores are done, choose a well-balanced fertilizer program for your yard. If you haven’t already done so, now is still a good time to test your lawns and gardens for the soil pH. If you’re not sure which is the best for your yard, ask your local nursery they can identify a good program for your soil type. A 10-10-10 fertilizer, which has nitrogen, phosphorus and potash, is a good all-around mixture for most lawns. Apply all fertilizers evenly to avoid a striped pattern in the grass. Follow watering directions for the fertilizer carefully, or you may damage your lawn.
Know what local ‘pests’ are in your neighborhood
While you may think that all you must plan for is sun and water for your landscaping, think again – pests such as wildlife, insects, and stray animals can wreak havoc on your landscaping. Plan if you will need fencing, wire mesh, or possibly planting natural plantings can deter and ward off many local pests.
Many of us have problems with those pesky ground moles. The real reason they burrow through your yard is for the grubs. These grubs are Japanese beetles that live in the ground until they fly out in the summer to eat your landscaping and the go back to ground to lay more eggs. Now is the time to apply a grub control to eliminate the beetles
For some, inspiration comes from looking at neighboring yards, or traveling to other areas of your town to look at landscaping. While others seek inspiration from home and garden publications and satellite television do-it-yourself programs. A trip through a garden center like Horrocks Garden Center may be all the inspiration you need to get motivated. The staff will know what will grow well in your area.