Early Spring Start-Up Tips

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early spring off to a great start Spring is just beginning for those in the northern states. Many gardeners are getting anxious to shake off the winter doldrums and start working on their lawns, landscape beds and gardens again. After being teased by Mother Nature in mid to late February with warm temperatures, the last month or so has been cold, snowy, wet and just down right miserable. During those few couple of warm days the grass began turning green, Tulips and Daffodils pushed through the soil and buds on the trees and shrubs were getting ready to open. One thing to keep in mind; it is only the middle of April and the chance for temperatures to drop below freezing is still a real possibility. In fact, for much of the northern US, the chance for frost can persist until at least Mother’s Day.

5 checklist items for early spring start-up:

day lily from damage
  1. Walk and survey - I know that I plan to walk around my lawn this weekend to see what did and didn’t survive through winter. I do know that my Day Lilies and Irises all have white tips due to the bitter cold temperatures. These plants will survive just fine and the white tips will eventually turn brown. They may look a little ragged for a few weeks, but they are hardy plants and have adapted to the cold weather. It is still a good idea to take a walk around your lawn on a warm sunny day to see how things fared during the winter months.
  2. Compost - If you are in the mood to do some work around your yard, rake up the leaves that have inevitably blown in during the winter. There have been some fairly significant wind storms in March and early April, so picking up dead branches will also be an early outdoor task. Put the leaves and branches in your compost bin, although you may have to cut up the branches into smaller pieces unless they are of significant size then they can always be used for firewood.
  3. Scan for disease - Check for possible disease activity, such as Snow Mold. Look for patches of matted grass that appear to be glued together. It is easy to “cure” your lawn from Snow Mold damage by using your fingers in a raking fashion to break up the matted grass. In some cases, large sections of a lawn can be affected, so using a flexible-tine rake is the best option. Lightly rake the spots to break up the matted grass to allow new grass to grow back and fill in the matted patches.
  4. Fertilize - Applying a spring fertilization is another important task. When cool-season grasses come out of winter dormancy, the end for food is important. Don’t worry if it rains or even snows after your lawn has been fertilized. Any type of fertilizer, whether applied as a liquid or granular, needs water to wash it into the spoil where it can be taken up by the roots.
  5. Time your planting - It is still early, although I have seen some garden centers already displaying “cool weather” plants like Pansies and Violas. In most cases, there are still another 3 to 4 weeks before annual plants can be planted. Some garden plants can be planted early, such as lettuce, or if you are using cold frames to start vegetable plants. The ground is still wet and it has to dry out before tilling the soil. In the meantime, draw up some plans of where you want to plant, search the Internet for different flowers and landscape ideas. There is plenty of time before you get out the shovels and rakes.
If you have questions about problem areas in your lawn this spring be sure to contact your local neighborhood lawn care team at Spring-Green.