It is that time of year again! Spring is here and your yard and landscape are due for a spring cleanup. Maintaining your landscape during the spring is vital for a healthy and attractive yard come summer. By following the 6 Ways to Prepare Your Landscape for Spring, you can give your landscape and yard a leg up over your neighbor.
Spring is a crucial time to get ahead by getting rid of any debris from the fall and winter seasons. Living in Colorado, we experience all sorts of weather. With that said, we can have the weather turn in an hour. If a freeze happens in the early fall before leaves and buds harden off or in late spring once leaves and flowers have begun emerging, your trees and shrubs blossoms may be damaged resulting in no fruit or misshapen trees and shrubs come Summer.
What is spring cleanup?
Spring cleanup is the process of cleaning accumulated debris from the landscaped areas, cutting back ornamental grasses and perennials, and doing selective pruning on summer flowering trees and shrubs. Good examples of shrubs to cut back are roses, spirea, and potentilla. It is also the time to low mow the turf so that it allows sunlight in to warm the soil. This promotes a faster green-up of the turf and gets rid of excess leaf debris from the dead grass. Edging the beds and grassy areas that border concrete will define your landscape and keep the grass from overgrowing the edges. After cleaning up your landscape, it may be beneficial to put down a pre-emergent in the beds to keep weed seeds from germinating.
1. Pruning, Cutting back grass & removing debris
Spring pruning has two main goals: removing dead and diseased branches and maintaining the correct form for the plant. Some plants that are pruned in spring benefit from a good rejuvenation pruning where you cut the plants back severely to allow them to generate all new growth. This task can be accomplished annually to every 3-5 years. While other plants a larger habit is desired. (A plant’s “habit” define’s its overall shape and form). These plants should be observed until leaf emergence to see where to cut back to. This will allow you to selectively prune out dead stems to the ground, while allowing taller stems to maintain their height. Plants that benefit from this are hydrangeas, blue mist spirea, and russian sage.
Grasses need to be cut to within 3” or less of the ground. Leaving more than this creates an environment where the center will rot because it holds moisture in the remaining grass stalks.
Once all the above are completed it is time to remove all debris from the beds to prepare them for pre-emergent herbicides. Be sure to follow all label directions to ensure you don’t damage your existing plants or future plantings. Removal of debris from dead perennials and shrubs helps to remove disease from beds that may be on the fallen leaves.
2. Turning Mulch & Adding Nutrients
Once you’ve completed pruning and cleanup (and while the soil is still weed-free), it’s time to turn or add to your wood mulch beds. Turning or adding a layer of fresh mulch can provide insulation from fluctuating temperatures, slow water loss to evaporation, and reduce competition from grass and weeds.
Nutrient rich soil is a necessity for a healthy plant. Adding compost or conventional fertilizer this time of year promotes healthy, vigorous growth and flower production. Compost can either be top-dressed over the bed or incorporated into the soil. If you are incorporating with a tiller, be sure to take care around roots of your plants so you don’t damage them. Do it when the soils are moist, but not waterlogged or overly dry, as this will impact the soil structure negatively. Granular conventional fertilizer will need watered in to get the granule to break down and release the nutrients to the soil profile. Be sure to follow the directions on the container.
3. Tuning up your lawn Equipment
Tuning up lawn care equipment plays a vital role in getting your yard on track for a healthy and productive growing season. Inspect the equipment for damages that could affect the safety and functionality. Be sure to change the oil, air filter and spark plug. Remove any dirt or grass clippings from the deck and sharpen the blades. Colorado can have harsh winters, which makes it harder for equipment to start up. If you have a chance, warm your equipment in the sun for an hour or two before revving it up. This can help extend the life of the engine and reduce repair costs in the future.
4. Aerating your lawn
Maintaining a nice landscape takes work! Aeration is crucial to a healthy lawn. Aerating opens the turf canopy and reduces compaction allowing water, air, and nutrients to get into the soil. In heavily trafficked areas or lawns with heavy thatch you may want to go in two directions perpendicular to each other to create more holes for infiltration.
5. Overseeding your lawn
Overseeding your lawn is important to keep your lawn thick and lush. Overseeding is spreading new grass seed over an existing lawn to fill thin spots. The best time to overseed a cool season lawn is in May or late August. The temperatures tend to be cooler during these months and have a better chance of precipitation. Be sure to not apply a preemergent to your lawn if you plan on seeding.
6. Turning on irrigation
In Colorado Springs, our last frost date is May 16th. Irrigation systems can be turned on sooner but should be drained if temperatures are predicted to go below 30F. Once your system is on, you should check for leaks and adjust spray patterns to ensure they are not watering hardscapes or sidewalks.
Taking care of your landscape in the spring can help prevent weed growth and encourage vigorous healthy growth of your plants and lawn. By following the 6 ways to prepare your landscape for spring, you can make your little bit of heaven more enjoyable throughout the year.
If you have any questions or would like to get on our maintenance schedule, reach out to a Timberline expert.