Is Your Lawn Equipment Ready for Spring?

mower

Before spring officially hits, it’s beneficial to take stock of your equipment to ensure you’re ready to perform the maintenance your lawn will inevitably need. Think lawn mowers, weed whackers, edgers, gardening tools, electric power equipment and garden hoses.

Use this checklist so that you’re prepared come springtime:

Your Spring-Ready Lawn Gear Checklist

1. Prepare Your Lawn Mower

The lawn mower has been in hibernation all winter, but now it’s time to gear up for the working season ahead.

Step one of your spring preparation checklist is to bring the mower out of storage and follow a few easy steps to shake off the winter dust. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Cleaning and De-winterizing: Start by draining and replacing any old fuel in the mower before turning it on. Then, do a quick inspection of basic maintenance points like the oil, spark plugs and air filters to make sure they’re in good condition. Take a quick check of the pull cords, ensuring they aren’t frayed. This is also a good time to pull out the machine’s manual and check that you’ve followed all recommended maintenance protocols.
  • Warm-Up Run Before the First Use: Once everything appears to be in good working order and you’ve filled up with fresh fuel, it’s the perfect time to start the engine and let your lawn mower warm up before the first cut of spring. This will allow the engine to run before prolonged use. During this time, listen for any strange sounds that might indicate a problem is brewing.
  • Common Repairs to Look Out For: Most common post-winter lawn mower repairs are generally related to chords, air filters, debris buildup and dirty fuel or oil. These are areas to keep an eye out for as you prepare your mower for spring. If you have a battery-operated mower or riding lawn mower, the battery may need to be charged or even replaced after a long winter break.
  • Lawn Mower Blade Maintenance Tips: One of the most frequently asked questions lawn pros get is “How can I tell if my lawn mower needs a new blade or just needs to be sharpened?” The rule of thumb is most mower blades will last 20-25 hours until they need to be sharpened. The overall lifetime of most blades is approximately 100-200 hours total. This number can be higher, ranging up to 400 hours, for higher-quality blades. Once you’ve cleared the cutting deck of any clippings, you can keep an eye on how well your lawn mower works on your grass.

2. Take Stock of Other Electric- and Gas-Powered Equipment

Aside from the lawn mower, be sure to take a look at all your other electric- and gas-powered lawn equipment before its first spring use. You might have a shed full of items like weed whackers, edgers and gardening tools that will require spring cleaning. As you dig into that packed shed, inspect your lawn equipment for signs of rust, broken parts or frayed wires. If blades need to be replaced or sharpened, now is the perfect time to do so.

trimmer

3. Decide to Repair or Buy New

To repair or replace—this is always the question that befuddles lawn equipment owners. The answer is usually clear when you weigh the pros and cons. Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether you need new lawn care equipment or can work with what you currently own:

  • Is my lawn equipment still under warranty?
  • Do I use this piece of equipment often?
  • Is there a newer model that offers better features?
  • Are the cost and time required to repair more than the worth of the equipment?

4. Get Ready for Watering

April showers bring May flowers, undoubtedly. As we approach the summer months, lawn watering becomes crucial to keeping everything lush, green and healthy. Here are a few best practices to follow to get your hoses and sprinklers ready for the season ahead:

watering hose
  • De-winterize Your Gardening Hose: Unroll your hose and hook it up to the tap to ensure it’s in full working order and has not rotted or been otherwise damaged during the winter. Make sure you have long enough hoses to keep your lawn hydrated and healthy this summer. Keep in mind that your lawn will need about an inch of water per week on average to remain perfectly hydrated (about .63 gallons per square foot of grass).
  • Prepare Your Sprinklers: Sprinkler systems can get damaged during winter for a myriad of reasons. Do a quick check to make sure all parts are properly working.

As spring approaches, take time to follow this checklist to ensure you’re prepared. Now is also the perfect time to schedule your spring, summer and fall lawn care services with your local lawn care team. Our expert technicians are standing by to provide a tailored plan to help you achieve a greener, healthier and pest-free lawn and landcape.

Get started with Spring Green today.

How to Get Your Lawn and Landscape Ready For Spring

get lawn and landscape ready for spring

If you live in the southern part of the U.S., you may have already started getting your lawn and landscape in shape for the coming spring. For those that live in the more northern parts of the U.S., you are most likely wishing that it will start to get warmer so that the snow will melt and you can see your lawn, but there are still things that you can do to start getting your landscape in shape for the coming year.

I conduct regional training programs across the U.S. at this time of year to help set the pace for the coming year. Besides sales and customer service topics, I also include sessions on technical topics as well as application and product safety. I start in the southern sections of the U.S. where we have franchise locations and slowly work my way north. In the southern sections, the primary work that is being completed is spreading mulch in landscape beds, selective pruning of trees along with controlling winter weeds and applying products to prevent annual grasses from germinating as the weather warms up.

About the only outdoor work that can be completed in the northern areas is selective pruning of trees. Winter is a great time to remove branches that may be crossing other branches or ones that are broken or misshapen. Up to now, snow fall has been far less than normal, so there is a good deal of tree pruning going on at this time of year. If you are pruning a spring flowering tree like a magnolia or crabapple, be careful of how much you prune off as it will reduce the number of flowers that will display this coming spring.

How to Get Lawn and Landscape Equipment Ready For Spring

Regardless of where you live, winter is a great time to get lawn mowers and other power equipment ready for the spring. If you are using a 4-cycle engine that requires oil, winter is a good time to remove the old oil and add fresh oil for the coming season. Change the spark plug if it hasn’t been changed for a couple of years. Clean the underside of the mower deck and clean and/or replace the air filter. It is also a great time to sharpen the mower blade. If you are not mechanically inclined, many hardware stores and small engine repair shops offer tune-up specials during the winter.

Many gas-powered line trimmers and blowers use gas and oil mixture so an oil change is not necessary, but cleaning and/or replacing the air filter is a good practice as is replacing the spark plug. If you use battery-powered line trimmers or blowers, there is not much maintenance that has to be completed on these items outside of cleaning them if they have become dirty.

Although gardening tools should have been cleaned and wiped down with oil before storing for the winter, sometimes this task gets forgotten. Using a stiff wire brush to clean off shovels, hoes, rakes or other metal gardening tools before things get busy again this spring. After cleaning off soil and any possible rust, either wipe the metal parts with oil are spray them with an oil-based lubricant.

Spring Gardening Ideas

This is also the time to start exploring different gardening ideas for the coming year. Think back and what you planted to determine what grew well and what sort of fizzled out and died. Seed catalogs are often abundant now, but not everyone has these publications delivered to their homes. Fortunately, the internet is a tremendous source for all types of advice for gardening. It is best to stick with recommendations for accredited sources such as university extension services or well-known brands such as Burpee or Proven Winners, just to name two.

The weather will get warmer, trees and shrubs will start to bud out and produce flowers and spring bulbs will surface to fill may landscapes with glorious colors. Gardening does require patience, so relax, explore landscape ideas online and before you know it spring will be upon us. Now is also a good time to start thinking about a lawn care service. Contact us to plan for the greener, thicker lawn you’ve been wanting!

Helpful Hints for Choosing New Plants This Spring

Spring Planting

They’re Here! The New Plant Catalogs Are Here!

When I am traveling and visiting franchise owners I tend to get a little jealous regarding the plants that are growing around the country especially those owners who live in warmer climates.

I recently was in the Seattle, WA area and saw pansies for sale at a home improvement store. I wanted to buy some so I could take them back with me, but realized that the high temperature was only going to be about 4 degrees when I got home. So much for the pansies…

However when I got home, you can imagine my delight when I found that my first plant catalog had been delivered. This becomes an exciting time for me, since I always look forward to picking out all of the plants I want to buy each year. Even though I usually end up forgetting to order them, don’t have enough time to plant them, or the weather is not conducive to planting when I do have the time.

For those of you who receive a plant catalog or seed catalog every year make sure to keep in mind the growing conditions where you are going to put the new plants. In my own yard, it is very shady, so I pass by the ones that have the little “sun” icon and look for ones that have either the “partial sun” or “all clouds” icons. The ones that seem to do the best in my landscape are hostas and astilbes.

There are numerous varieties of hostas with different colored leaves, flowers and sizes. They are relatively hardy in northern Illinois, so I try to stick with these type of plants.  Then there are Astilbes which are very pretty and have very showy flowers. It seems that most plants that grow in the shade have less flowers than there sunny counterparts, so having some pink or red flowers in the landscape is a nice change.

Also look at the planting zones.  There are a lot of beautiful plants that grow in warmer climates, but will still grow where I live, however they do have to be dug up every fall as they cannot handle the deep freeze we receive every winter.

Climate zones

I have purchased these type of plants in the past, like gladiolas, but never seem to find the time to dig them up in the fall.  In the past when I have dug them up I forget about them the following spring and they never get planted. However if you are not up for a challenge, gladiolas are relatively cheap when purchasing standard color bags of in the spring, so I find it easier to just buy new ones each year.

I know that I have about three more months before I can start “diggin” in the dirt again, so I will have to be satisfied with pursuing the plant and seed catalogs and dream about warmer weather.

Do you have any questions about what to plant in your yard this spring? Contact your local Spring-Green with any questions you may have.

Can I Seed My Lawn In The Spring?

Can I seed my lawn in the spring? (Part 2)

Continuing with this question, another consideration is the amount of broadleaf weeds present in your lawn. If dandelions, clover, thistles or any of the numerous other broadleaf weeds growing in the lawn or in the area where you want to seed, they should be controlled before seeding. The problem lies in the time that should transpire after spraying the weeds with a commercial weed control product, which is about three to four weeks. If you decide to wait until after the seeding is completed, then the wait time is about 4 to 6 weeks. An option would be to hand pull weeds, but this can be a time consuming process and often times the weeds come back from the roots. If weeds are a problem in your lawn, it is better to get them under control and delay seeding until the fall.

Many times, shady areas thin out over the summer time and look very thin in the spring. Seeding a shady area is an option in the spring as crabgrass usually does not grow well in this type of area. You still have to be careful not to apply a crabgrass control product to the area or use a broadleaf weed control in the area.

Depending on the amount of shade in the area where you want to seed, trying to grow grass in shady areas can futile and frustrating. Most turfgrass requires about 4 to 5 hours of at least filtered sunlight to grow well. If grass just doesn’t seem to grow in a shady area such as under a tree, consider switching to a groundcover or mulch the area.

Spring is Here – Depending on Where You Live

Spring is in full swing in the southern regions of the US, which makes us northerners a little jealous and anxious, wondering when we will start getting some warmer weather. I spoke with one of our Franchise Owners in Charlotte, NC today, and he was telling me that it is 75 degrees down there today. Whereas, on the other side of the US, our Franchise Owner in Olympia, WA is looking at 8 inches of snow out of his office window. If there is one thing I have learned after 33 years in lawn care is that weather is always a challenge.

For those of you in the warmer parts of the US, spring has sprung and lawns are slowly beginning to wake up. Most warm-season turfgrasses are still dormant and are probably about two to three weeks away from showing a good deal of new growth. This is a good time to pick up any branches or other plant debris that may have fallen over the winter. You can lightly rake the lawn to break up any matted grass, but don’t be too vigorous with your raking. This is especially true if your lawn was already received a pre-emergent crabgrass control.

In areas where snow is still present – be patient as spring will come. If you are in an area where it was warm enough to start fertilizing and then it snowed, such as in the Pacific Northwest, don’t be concerned about the snow affecting the fertilizer application. Melting snow is a very good way to get fertilizer into the root zone.

Spring Planning and Planting

When Spring Finally Comes, What Should I Plant?

For much of the US including the Upper Midwest, Midwest and Chicago area, winter means working hard to stay warm. Working outdoors is just a distant memory or a dream for the upcoming spring and summer. January is the time of year when seed companies send out catalogues, so it is a great time to plan for the coming growing season. Think back to what grew well and what did not. Look through the seed and plant catalogues to get ideas on what to plant. Just remember to plan for your growing zone.