As much as we look forward to feeling the warm weather and watching green buds appear on tree branches, the process of cleaning up our gardens in the spring can be daunting. When the snow melts away and reveals the mess beneath, we might impulsively dread the labor standing between us and our lush summer garden. If that sounds like you, this advice can help. By breaking up your spring garden clean up into smaller tasks, you might be amazed how efficiently you can set up your lawn, beds, and borders for the new season.
Amending Soil in the Spring:
Our first task is to get our soil back in shape for the new season. The long winter season is tough on all of us, and our soil is no different. Once the earth has thawed, the quality of the soil and the nutrients suspended within have all taken a significant beating.
To rehabilitate the soil, introduce some fresh organic matter, such as well-rotted compost or commercial organic fertilizers, into beds and borders. Meyer carries a comprehensive all-natural organic line of soil amendment products and fertilizers. BioFlora Organics introduce microbiology and 65 trace minerals back into the soil. The earlier you apply the organic fertilizer and soil amendments, the more time it will have to break down and steadily infuse nutrients and important microorganisms into the soil through the season.
When you begin planting your first annuals of the year, you may also choose to use an appropriate mild organic fertilizer like BioFlora Plantalizer 1-2-1 to deliver the necessary NPK and nutrition to the roots. Keep in mind, organic fertilizers are slower-acting but will assist your plants in adapting to the soil over time, and they will not leach-out with heavy spring rains, like synthetic (man-made) fertilizers.
Finally, use organic hardwood mulch around the bases of your annuals and perennials to help conserve moisture while feeding the soil. Mulching allows plants to maintain the right moisture balance to keep their roots healthy while using an organic mulch allows you to further build soil quality as it breaks down.
If your soil suffers from any serious quality issues, we advise speaking to one of our landscaping representatives for advice on proper soil amendment – we recommend BioFlora’s Humic Acid product, which can truly rid poor soils of contaminants. Don’t give up hope – there’s a solution for nearly any soil problem and this can be done in an ecological way.
Cleaning Up Your Lawn
Grass that has sat beneath a thick layer of snow and ice will likely appear tangled and damp. Start with a thorough rake-through of your lawn. This will help to pull up any dead material, loosen soil, and separate the blades to allow some much-needed airflow.
After removing debris, over-seeding is recommended for any sparse patches with high-quality grass seed. Water your lawn generously and ensure the seeds are kept moist until they’ve established. Refrain from cutting grass until the new growth is at least 2 inches tall, and be careful not to cut more than one-third of the blade height off at a time. Excessive cutting can overexpose the lawn soil to sunlight and lead to burnt areas.
By early April, it’s time to feed the lawn. The best fertilizer for lawn in the spring is a balanced NPK formula, which should be reapplied every other month for best results. We recommend BioFlora Crumbles 8-3-6, which is a slow release fertilizer that will give you longer lasting green-up than synthetic (man-made) fertilizers.
Tree, Shrub, and Perennial Management
By now, your yard should have begun to shape up, and you can begin to focus on beautifying your garden. Your trees, shrubs, and perennials are the backbone of your garden design, so giving them a well-earned cleanup in the spring will completely transform the appearance of your landscape.
Spring Tree and Shrub Care
Spring-flowering shrubs and trees, on the other hand, should not be pruned until after flowers drop. The only areas of the plant which should be cut are branches that pose a safety hazard, like a heavy branch that has grown near a window or a low-hanging branch that someone might trip on.
Summer-flowering shrubs and trees should be pruned in early spring because the new growth creates flowers. Use freshly sharpened and disinfected shears to shape the plant, focusing on the branches lowest to the ground. Prune off no more than one-third of the plant. By summertime, they’ll have grown new wood and beautiful buds.
Spring Perennial Care
Some perennials stand to benefit from a spring clean-up, and other varieties can be left alone. While it’s generally safe to remove dead overgrowth, make sure you’re familiar with your perennials early spring needs before taking too much off.
If some of your plants – whether perennials, shrubs, or trees – don’t survive the winter, you can fill the empty spaces after removal by dividing perennials. Dividing perennials strengthens the plant by reducing the amount of plant material the overall plant has to maintain, leading to more blooms in the summer. Springtime is the ideal time for division, as it’s early enough not to severely disrupt the plant’s growth and the soil is soft and easy to work with. Simply dig up the root ball of your favorites perennials and divide it into as many sections as you’d like, provided each section has some new growth stemming from it. You can then re-plant each division wherever you’d like, or simply keep one section and discard the rest.
Repairs and Finishing Touches
Now that your yard is well on its way to recovery, you can focus your attention on maintaining your hardscapes and accents.
Perhaps there’s an outdoor swing that could use fixing or a deck that needs re-staining. Spring is also a good time to set up the atmosphere you want to enjoy in the summer, so you may want to hang bistro lights on your patio or select some comfortable new outdoor furniture.
By now, the native wildlife is also getting back into warm-weather routines, and many species of birds are searching for food. You may want to restock feeders or set up a bird bath to start attracting them to your home.
Finally, once it’s warm enough, your property will start looking like an even better version of itself. You can start adding your favorite annuals, fill your containers, and set up your hanging planters. Then, you can pour yourself a beverage, fire up the BBQ, and welcome yourself back to outdoor living.
Meyer Landscape & Design and Garden Center
For the average Do-It-Yourselfer any of these tasks can seem daunting so we invite you to take advantage of our highly qualified design and horticulture staff here at Meyer. Browse our 3 acre garden center and speak with our knowledgeable staff to broaden your perspective of available and very unique specimen plants. We encourage DIY’ers to take photos and measurements before coming in to consult with us. We can also provide you with a free estimate and professional design if you’d prefer us to do the work for you. Our tenured crews are efficient and we’d love to set up an annual maintenance program for you, if you’d prefer. Meyer has been serving the Quad Cities since 1950. Call today (309) 762-6226.