Checklist for Spring Landscaping Success

No matter what the groundhog says, spring is almost here! As temperatures grow milder, late winter and early spring are a great time to get your yard in shape. Just follow these steps for smart spring preparation.

  • Cleanup
    One of the first things you should do is remove debris that has accumulated in your yard over the course of the cold season. You’ll want to wear a pair of work gloves to protect your hands from any sharp branches or other items.
  • Raking
    Chances are, there aren’t too many leaves left behind since you raked in the fall, but it’s a good idea to remove the ones that have blown-in during the blustery winter we’ve had. Raking will also break up the clumped-up grass and get rid of thatch, which is a layer of mainly dead grass that can prohibit healthy grass if the layer of thatch is more than a half inch thick or so. Be sure to avoid raking while the lawn is still wet or muddy. Wait for it to dry out.
  • Aerate
    If soil is compacted to the point that existing grass can’t grow, it may be necessary to aerate. That might happen more on lawns that get heavy foot traffic – lots of running and playing in the same spot, for instance. Another sign that aeration might be required is moss, which thrives on compacted soil. A soil aerator will break up the packed and dense parts of your lawn and create openings that allow water and air to penetrate the soil.
  • Seed
    Fill in bare spots in your lawn where grass isn’t growing with seed. Don’t worry about being careful to apply seed only to the visible patches. It’s appropriate to overseed the entire lawn to ensure that all the grass remains thick and healthy.
  • Fertilize
    Early in spring, use a combination of fertilizer, which feeds your grass, and pre-emergent, which is an herbicide used to prevent crabgrass. Many lawn care brands offer a combination of pre-emergent and weed killer in one application, which will lower your cost and the time it takes to apply them. Don’t apply weed killer too early because it will wash away if the soil is too cold. Crabgrass loves the heat, so pay special attention to the edges of your driveway and along rock surfaces where it’s likely to sprout.
  • Tune-up your mower
    Time to get out the lawn mower and check it over. Change the oil, air filter, and spark plug. Clean it from dirt and grass clippings. Use caution, though – don’t flip a gas mower over entirely to clean under it, but lift one side at a time to brush away dried grass. There are shops that service mowers and can do the job for you, including sharpening the blade. Now is the time so the spring crowds don’t delay you.
  • Early planting
    Many plants can be started indoors this time of year for planting out in spring, and particularly hardy vegetables can be planted weeks before the last frost. Look at the plant information for whatever you intend to plant. Bulbs and Perennials tend to be straightforward to plant. Dig the hole at the proper depth and spacing, add any soil amendments necessary, add the bulb/root ball and be sure that the crown is right at soil level, then fill in the hole and water thoroughly.
  • Alternate Options
    Hopefully, you already have your garden elements finalized and have purchased or ordered the seeds you need. If not, do so as soon as possible in case there are supply issues that delay your planting. You can also ask a garden center for alternatives similar to what you had in mind. If your favorite varieties are sold out, embrace the chance to try something new.
  • Mulch
    Very early spring is the perfect time to get new mulch down. Because it suppresses weeds, setting up a mulch barrier now will save you weeding time during the growing season. If your flower beds aren’t planted tightly enough to prevent the sun from reaching the soil, or if you have any open areas, a minimum 2-inch layer of mulch will block the sun from letting weeds germinate.
  • Keep curb appeal in mind
    Winter in the northeast is hard on our homes and landscaping. If you have an irrigation system, make sure it works properly, and check to see if there’s damage to any outdoor lighting and replace lightbulbs. Fix broken or damaged patio furniture and any wooden structures that might have not fared the elements so well. Clean off and refresh your deck once it’s warm enough that power-washing won’t create any ice. Replace the dingy outside doormat if you have one. Do some paint touch-ups where necessary and check around your foundation to see if any unwanted critters found an opening into your home.

Are you ready for spring? We know, recent snowstorms kind of took the wind out of our warm weather sails. But it’s on its way! What are you planting this spring?