Whether you have a green thumb or not, there are many things you can do to guarantee a lush and lovely lawn and garden for the spring and summer.
Cleanup and maintenance:
First, clear away weeds and dead foliage from your landscape beds, berms, and lawn. Cut back or prune overgrown vegetation – including ornamental grasses, shrubbery, trees, and hedges.
Proper watering is essential, so check your sprinkler system for leaky valves and exposed lines, and plan professional repairs right away.
If you have tall trees on or near your property, remove any fallen branches. Afterward, use a sturdy lawn rake to remove thatch—the tangle of dead grass and weeds that chokes out the new lawn that’s just beginning to come to life.
Growing the perfect lawn:
For your first mowing, set your mower blades high to trim just the top, leaving at least three inches of grass blade. Cutting it too short shocks the grass and causes it to grow faster, making you have to mow too often. If your lawn is due for a feeding, spring is the perfect time. You may even want to take a soil sample to a local university for analysis, and to learn what nutrients your lawn is lacking.
It’s wise to control weeds early – so pull weeds before the roots have taken hold, and while the soil is damp. If you have a lot of weeds, use an herbicide selectively to kill roots. If you do so before weeds begin to flower, you can prevent them from re-seeding and causing a much larger problem – certain weeds can generate as many as 10,000 seeds!
If you’re re-seeding your lawn, don’t forget to water it three or four times every week until the seeds sprout.
Once you’ve achieved a beautiful lawn, you must continue to mow it properly. Set your mower blades to cut off no more than one third of the blade – and remember to leave at least three inches of grass blade. Taller grass is healthier, grows slower and prevents more weeds that short grass. If your lawn is already too high, cut off the top third, wait a few days, and then cut again – cutting too deep can damage your grass. And sharpen your mower blades – dull blades will tear the grass.
If you’re planning a flower garden, prepare the bed. After you’ve removed debris and weeds, turn the soil over with a shovel, and add any organic nutrients you want to use.
When selecting flowers, browse through garden books to choose the plants that are right for your climate and care you can provide. Look for plants of complementary colors and heights – or purchase software that allows you to create a design by planting a “virtual” garden.
Another way to plan your garden design is to take the plants you’ve chosen and set them around the garden space in their pots. This gives you a better sense of your design before you plant. Try not to crowd your plants. Give them room to grow into the space. A garden that looks perfect when it is first planted can quickly look like a jungle once the plants grow in.
When you’re happy with your design, start planting. Dig a hole that’s just deep enough for the plant’s root ball, but twice as wide. Set the plant in the hole, and fill the hole with soil, packing it gently around the base of the plant. Water the plant thoroughly right away, and continue to do so until it’s established.
Prevent weeds and add color with mulch:
When your garden is planted it’s time to mulch. Mulch comes in many colors and textures, and it holds in moisture and retards weeds. There are three basic types of mulch:
- Cypress mulch is stringy and reddish-brown. It resists decay, repels insects, and maintains its appearance for longer periods of time than other varieties, though it doesn’t offer any nutrition.
- Hardwood mulch is rich in nutrients and has a dark brown to black color. It’s quite dense, adds a richer look to your landscape, and insulates and protects your plants better than other mulches. However, it can have an unseen dry layer that could starve your garden of water and air. So aerate the mulch occasionally, and keep your garden properly watered.
- Cedar mulch resists decay and repels insects, but loses color and texture more quickly. It’s good for insulating the soil, preventing erosion, and holding moisture, but it doesn’t offer the nutritional benefits of hardwood mulch.
If you’re looking for a dark and defined look, consider dyed black mulch. It doesn’t offer many nutrients, but it will provide your garden with a very rich, clean look and will hold its color longer while keeping the weeds down.
Giving a personal touch:
Last but not least, transform your outdoor environment into an inviting retreat. You can create pot gardens that showcase your favorite colors and flowers, and act as focal points or borders for gathering areas. You can also add homey touches like outdoor fire pits and Christmas lights. TLTVMaintenance