Spring Cleaning Our Yards and Gardens: Part Two
by Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton
Last week, we talked about what first steps you can take to begin organizing your yard and garden. Once you’ve removed debris, raked the yard, and planned your new season’s garden, you can start creating your new space.
Purge, Prune, and Prep
Purge everything that will not be part of your new look. Do this first, to highlight the areas where changes need to be made.
Prune everything that will remain and looks even close to being overgrown. Bushes, trees, hedges, shrubs, perennials, roses, canes – Don’t miss anything that will regrow in a mature, balanced way. Arrange for professional pruning of anything you can’t reach easily. Consult professionals on the best way to prune what you will be keeping.
Prep for seeding and composting. In many climates, grass starts growing in April, so early spring is a good time to prepare. Remove any damaged turf. Apply a layer of compost (usually about a half-inch thick) to keep the new seeds moist and increase the density and growth rate.
Consult a professional to determine the optimum time for seeding, as that time will vary based on location and climate. One of the best seeding preps in any area, however, is to remove any dead turf with a square metal rake, then flip it over to spread compost.
If you choose to compost, add all of the collected leaves, cuttings, spent foliage, old mulch, etc. into your compost pile. If a traditional pile is not possible or acceptable, create a compost corral by joining sections of wire fencing into an area that is sufficient for the debris. Shred and chip anything larger than a half-inch in diameter, since smaller size accelerates decomposition. Aerate the pile approximately every two weeks. (A pitchfork is perfect for this task.) Finally, do not add any weeds that have gone to seed, since they might sprout rather than burning completely.
Check the planting dates on everything new you are adding. Understanding and following guidelines for proper planting timing is as critical as any other aspect of your plan, particularly when it comes to early planting – when cool nights can have an impact on growth.
One more element to finish your work
Caring for a yard and garden includes the “visual framing” of your efforts. Don’t forget to consider how the colors you use impact how appealing the result will be. Also, painting and patching (or even replacing) any wooden structures on, around, or near your lawn and garden can provide the finishing touch to a beautiful creation. Don’t let anything that is faded or visually jarring detract from your effort. Once everything has been planted, step back and look at everything else – creating a truly unified, cohesive appearance you can enjoy fully.