Spring Lawn Clean Up
A bit of early spring maintenance will help you get your yard ready for the growing spurts to come.
Clean up season
Some early spring cleanup tasks are excellent chores during March in our area. As the weather warms prune away winter-killed branches to make room for new growth. Prune back spent perennials and remove dead annuals if you didn't get around to it last fall. March is a good time go over your yard and see if it's time to thin out congested beds and do some transplanting to fill in other bare beds or maybe create a new one.
A 4 Step Spring Lawn Checklist
1. Shrubs & Trees
Prune away dead, suffocating, and damaged branches. Where tree or shrub branches have been damaged by cold and wind, prune back just beyond the scarred area. Tip - use a handsaw or small power saw for any branches larger than half an inch round. Prune away off shoots in some areas after shaping to allow the air and sunlight to penetrate the shrub's middle area. Trim summer flowering shrubs including roses, before buds start to bulge, but wait to prune spring bloomers, like forsythia, after they have produced flowers.
2. Perennials and Grasses
Trim down and divide perennials as required. Cut flowering perennials to a height of four to six inches and ornamental grasses to two to three inches. This allows new growth to strong shoots. Dig up perennials, such as daylilies & hostas, to thin overcrowded beds; divide, leaving at least three stems per new plant, and relocate them to fill in other gaps. Cut back winter damaged rose canes to one inch below the darkened area. For climbing plants, keep newer green stems and remove the older woody ones; tidy them up by rounding the canes horizontally and pointing the buds down. Use jute string or soft hook and loop fasteners to hold canes in place. A set of sharp hand pruners will make a cleaner cut on both dead and live foliage.
3. Beds and their Borders
Next up for your spring lawn clean up checklist, remove fallen leaves and dead foliage debris (which can drown other plants and promote disease), pull up old annuals, and throw into a bin with other organic lawn debris. Once the threat of frost has passed, remove some of the old mulch to prime the area for a new layer once your new planting is finished. Push out of position plants back into the beds and their borders, tamp them down around the base when replanting them. It's also a good time to lay a granular fertilizer made for existing plants on the soil so that spring rains and warmer temperatures can bring it down to the root bases. Adding a 5-10-10 fertilizer around bulbs as soon as they flower will help boast blooming time and continue to feed into the next season's growth. Use a squared shovel or edging tool to give your flower beds a clean edge and keep grasses from growing into them.
4. Lawn Care
Prepare damaged areas of your yard for spring seeding. In warmer zone grass will start growing in March, so, very early spring is a good time to amend the soil with the correct nutrients. A pH test can come in very handy for this. Remove grass damaged by disease to get ready for seeding. Work in some compost to keep new seed moist which aids germination. In our warmer climates - March is a good time to add an initial treatment of fertilizer and crabgrass preventer.