Just as the insides of our homes need a good going-through each spring as we declutter and clean, so do our lawns and patio areas. Spring is the time to get ready for a lovely patio season after so many of us have been in hibernation mode for most of the winter months. Taking the opportunity when the April midwestern weather decides to cooperate is the best way to make your outdoor area pleasant and inviting- which will only add to your desire to get out there and enjoy it!
Get Rid of Refuse
The first step to lawn clean-up is getting rid of rubbish and debris. Roll up your sleeves, put on your gloves, and get ready to pick up after Old Man Winter. Dead branches, animal waste, and litter that may have blown in should be disposed of properly. Do not compost animal waste as it contains pathogens and should be bagged and put in the trash. If you raked last fall, chances are you will have avoided snow mold, so just push away any stubborn leaf remnants which will help to avoid thatch build-up. Lastly, cut away any dead leaves and stalks from your perennials that you may have missed in the fall, and prune back shrubs and trees. Make sure pruning is done before buds start to swell in the spring. If the buds are swelling and the tree/shrub is waking up, it should be left alone.
Prep Your Soil
If you’re unsure of the make-up of your soil, you can send a sample to your local county extension office so they can test it to see if anything needs to be added to your soil. Once you have this information, you can amend your soil accordingly. In the interim, compost is a great slow-release fertilizer to bolster new growth. Adding a layer to perennials, flower beds, and even your lawn is a safe and natural way to jumpstart your greenery. If you have any rock beds, use spring to pull rocks away from the base of plants and over perennials as the rocks may have moved around over the winter. Do an overall mulch thickness check and make sure all areas have around 2″ of mulch depth. If more is needed, topdress accordingly. Mulch can also slide down slopes and pile up near edging after the winter, so raking mulch back away from edging before topdressing is a good practice for spring. Getting ahead of weeds early on is a good idea. Part of your spring checklist should be putting down your first application of pre-emergent weed control over your mulch beds and then setting reminders for the following applications throughout the season. For your lawn, depending on how extreme the infiltration of weeds like crabgrass becomes, you may need to take more combative action with the use of herbicides. This should be done in the spring and timed just before a gentle rain event, as heavy rains could potentially wash it away.
Once you’ve completed all of the aforementioned tasks, take a little time to get creative. Put up a birdhouse or a hummingbird feeder, build or buy container planters to house herbs for your summer kitchen, or start a gardening journal to chart progress and pitfalls to reference in the future. This can be used to track rainfall, document which flowers did well and which didn’t, and to make note of wildlife sightings like monarchs and bees. Speaking of, pollinator gardens are a good way to help provide a hospitable environment for our winged friends. Get the kids involved in some of these additions and enjoy the little visitors they attract. Here’s a handy resource to point you in the right direction when starting your own pollinator garden.
Although it can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride, spring is here with summer shortly behind it. So get yourself a nice new pair of gardening gloves, and dig in!