Spring Cleaning your Gardens and Lawn

 

Just like the inside of your home, your gardens and lawn will benefit from a good spring cleaning too…

As soon as the snow disappears from your lawn and garden you can start the spring cleaning.  When the lawn is dry (not spongy to walk on) give it a good rake to remove all the dead grass and leaves. Core aeration is recommended after raking to allow oxygen and nutrients to penetrate into the root system of your lawn, especially if your soil is heavily compacted.(as most lawns are in this area)  If your lawn has a lot of crabgrass and broad leaf weeds (dandelions) you can treat it to a weed and feed product.  The ones containing corn gluten are particularly effective if used before the weed seeds have a chance to germinate.  I sprinkle corn gluten right on the snow when there is only a small amount of snow left on my lawn, because as soon as the snow is gone, the weeds start to germinate and within a few days the crab grass growth is visible.  You can also overseed your lawn (but only if you have NOT applied something for weeds, otherwise wait 6 weeks to seed) by raking in topsoil and sprinkling grass seed on the soil.  This is best done before a rainy spell as the seeds should be kept wet until they germinate.

Your gardens can also use a good raking early, but be sure to use a plastic rake and a gentler touch, so tender dormant perennials are not damaged.  Remove all the dead leaves, last year’s annual (annuals are plants that you must replant each year) plantings and the twiggy pieces of last years growth on the perennials (perennials are plants that come back on their own each year).  Generally speaking, if the twiggy pieces break off easily with a gentle rake, it is safe to remove them.  Woodier perennials (lavender, sage, hibiscus etc) need a bit more time and should not be cut back until new growth is visible.  Shrubs that bloom in summer or fall (weigela, pink spirea, burning bush etc) can be pruned in early spring, while those that bloom early in spring (forsythia, lilacs, magnolia etc) should not be pruned until after they bloom.  Dividing perennials is best done this time of year too; dig up the overgrown clumps, divide them with a sharp spade, and plant in their new locations.  This can be done as soon as the ground thaws.  Annuals should not be planted until the danger of overnight frost is gone, usually late May in this area.

Once all of my perennials have re-emerged, the weeds and old annuals are removed, and the necessary pruning is done, I like to amend the soil around them with a triple mix of soil, compost and peat moss.  This product can be purchased already combined.   A layer of cedar mulch (I prefer the dark brown or black) is the final touch, but to prevent your plants from rotting, be sure not to apply the mulch too close to the base/stalks/stems of the plants.

The last step is to retrieve the outdoor furniture from its winter storage, and, the most important part, take a few minutes out of your busy life to sit down, relax and admire your efforts…

 

 

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