What to do now so you’ll be seeing GREEN come SPRING!
This time of year is a tough one for the flower and grass lovers here in the Pacific North West. While I love to enjoy a white Christmas and love to hit those ski slopes during the winter months, February always brings with it the longing desire to see green! So if you are ready to start preparing your lawn and flower beds for a warm spring welcome, here are a few things you might want to start planning for.
Prune Trees & Shrubs
While pruning trees and shrubs when they are still green can be a bit trickier, late winter/early spring pruning of dead and damaged branches is much more simple.
If there are any hanging branches or damages shrubs, simply take off the dead portions to get them ready for new growth. Save most of the heavy pruning for later in summer when they are in their growth stage.
Cut Back Perennials & Grasses
If you have decorative grasses or tall stemmed flowering perennials that didn’t get trimmed back in the fall, now is a good time to get out there and remove last year’s growth and dead stems. Decorative grasses can be trimmed back to around 3-4 inches in height. Don’t be afraid to take the old perennial growth back to ground level to prepare for the new buds as well.
While we may have already raked most of the leaves in the fall, another good raking will help remove any remaining dead leaves & twigs. This deep raking with help with thatch control and help to fluff up and separate new grass shoots as well as let the grass absorb sunlight. But one word of caution, too much foot traffic or hard raking on compact or waterlogged soil can damage tender new grassshoots. Another benefit to a good spring raking is the ability to find any matted patches where the grass blades or knocked down and stuck in a clump. This condition is often caused by a disease known as “snow mold.” The new spring grass will have trouble sprouting through these matted patches but a nice thorough raking will be take care of this problem
You can let your grass be your guide to trigger when you start mowing for the year. As soon as that sunshine comes out, the grass will begin to green up and start new growth. You will want to begin mowing just as soon as your lawn needs it and be sure no to go too short. Blades of grass actually thrive the best when cut no more than a third of the blade’s length at a time.
Maintain Lawn Equipment
Before you fire up that lawn mower, you will first want to pull it out and do a little maintenance. Make sure to sharpen the blade and possibly even perform an oil change and tune up to make sure you start the year with properly operating equipment.
On the flip side of things you need to do during early spring, there are a few jobs often thought to be best suited for this time of year that you will want actually want to hold off on until later in the season.
While many people think aeration is an early spring event, it is actually best to do this one your lawn has reached its peak growing season. For warm-season grasses, that will be in early to mid-summer. For cool-season grasses, aerating will work best in the fall but can be repeated in spring if the soil is extremely compacted. Either way, you will want to wait until you have mowed 2 or 3 times once the season starts to be sure it is growing fast enough in order to recover from the aeration process.
Since spring feeding will actually encourage rapid growth of the tender new shoots of grass that will have trouble surviving the coming heat of early summer, you will want to resist the urge to fertilize too heavily in the spring. If your lawn is in bad shape or you have excessive weeds, choose a lighter weed control based fertilizer to get things greening up.
This is another activity that can be a little tough on a newly sprouted lawn. You will have better results dethatching during peak growing season a little later in the summer just before aerating. Thatching is often overdone in general since this process really only needs to be done once the thickness of thatch has reached over ½” to approximately 1”.
By following a few of these simple rules of thumb, you will have your lawn and garden looking green and lush by the time the kids are out of school…. Just time to put them to work doing the mowing!
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