In many parts of Canada, spring has arrived early. Daffodils are in full bloom, and avid gardeners are heading outside to wake up their lawns and flower beds from winter. With the last frost behind us, it’s the perfect time to prepare for the growing season ahead.
Tools and Supplies
Prepare for your spring garden clean-up by having the right tools on hand. These include garden gloves, a shovel, a trowel, an aerator, lawn mower, compost, and mulch. If you don’t own an aerator, ask a neighbor or rent one from a home and garden center.
This is also a good time to check that your lawn mower is in good working order, and the blades are sharp before the first mow. Cutting a lawn with dull blades may tear grass plants, creating an environment for turf disease.
Take the time to clean up debris, leaves, sticks, and trash from your lawn, flower beds, pots, containers and planter boxes. Compost those leaves that were used to protect flower beds and remove burlap covers from plants that needed extra winter protection. Be sure to lay out the burlap to dry before storing it away for next year.
Spring is a great time to prune trees and shrubs that are not spring blooming. It is much easier to get to the branches when they are not full of foliage.
Inspect and Repair
Make repairs to planter boxes that have warped wood. Discard those broken pots that didn’t survive the winter elements. Fix borders and retaining walls to give yourself a firm foundation.
- Rake: give the lawn a stiff rake when it is not too wet. This will stir up the ground, allowing room for air circulation, water and nutrients to reach the grass plant roots.
- Mow: with your lawn mower, make the initial cut a little shorter and then don’t take more than a 1/3 of the grass length off with subsequent mowing sessions. It is important to stay on top of the lawn by mowing two to three times per week, alternating mowing direction to keep the grass plants growing straight.
- Aerate: after winter, the lawn has become compacted from snow and frost. Aerating cuts finger-sized holes into the ground to allow deeper penetration of fertilizer, nutrients, and water.
- Over-seed: over-seeding your lawn every year will keep it looking full and green. Just don’t put the seed down too early. Hold on until temperatures have reached 12 degrees. In addition, the seed will need moisture and sunlight to germinate. If you observe dead patches of grass, remove and replant with sod or seed.
- Fertilize: perhaps the most important step to take to ensure a healthy and lush lawn, fertilizing gives your grass the balanced nutrition it needs to grow. Once the snow is gone, and the lawn has started to green up, it is fertilizer time. Using a weed and feed product will not only give the grass plants the nutrition they need but will also help keep a weed-free lawn. Just be certain to read the instructions carefully and not over-fertilize.
- Water: it is important to water your lawn regularly throughout the season. Fewer longer and deeper watering sessions are more beneficial than frequent shallow ones.
- Weeding: remove weeds from your garden beds while the soil is still moist. They will slip out more easily than in dry conditions. Get the weeds under control in the spring and you will save yourself a lot of weeding time in the summer while preserving the soil’s nutrients for your plants.
- Till the soil: similar to your lawn, the soil in your garden has become compacted with the winter elements. Tilling the soil allows air circulation and water to reach deeper levels. In established flower gardens, tilling may not always be necessary as earthworms happily do the work for you.
- Compost: as soil settles and decomposes, it loses some of its nutrients. Topping up flower beds with compost or topsoil will help replace lost nutrients. This is particularly valuable for vegetable gardens.
- Mulch: mulching is often an overlooked step in the garden, and it has many proven benefits. These include keeping the soil cool and moist in the summer, reducing the chances of root burn caused by dry conditions. Mulch also helps prevent the growth of weeds by blocking sunlight.
- Planting: while traditional spring planting doesn’t start until May 24th when garden centers line their shelves with annuals, anxious gardeners may start to give their gardens and planters some color with pansies, violets, and primulas. This is also a great time to begin indoor seeding for vegetable plants and sunflowers.
Take the time in the spring to properly prepare your garden and lawn and you will reap the benefits all summer. Just think, weeding and fertilizing now will mean more time for a cold drink and a good book in the hammock.