Your Spring Planting Plan Is Here

Garden-flowers

Welcome to May! It’s time to start looking forward to all the amazing things spring and summer can bring to our outdoor world. If you’ve had gardening on your mind, the time to get started is now. It’s optimal time to get to work on your vegetable, fruit, herb, or flower planting initiatives. The pros at Spring-Green are passionate about all things that grow outside. Of course, we’re your neighborhood lawn care partners, but we’re all about gardening too. We know the weather is beautiful, and the time is right to get started. That’s why we’ve crafted this little beginner’s guide for you to check out as you plan out your spring garden this year.

5 Things That Should Be On Your Gardening Mind This May

  1. Get Familiar with Popular Vegetables, Fruit, & Flowers

May is prime time for gardening. Some vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs are best planted in later spring.Of course, many variables influence what choices you should make for your specific garden, but here is an overview of perfect options for planting in the month of May.

Fruits Honeydew Melon, Tomatoes, Raspberries

Vegetables Cucumber, Beets, Carrots, Beans, Peppers, Potatoes, Garlic

Herbs Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Cilantro, Thyme, Parsley, Basil

Flowers Crocus, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Primrose, Tulips, Camellia

2. Where to Begin?

Starting your spring garden can be the hardest part if you’re a newbie. Not to worry, though – follow these steps to get your garden growing in time for optimal enjoyment this summer.

Planting in Garden

Start by answering a few general questions:

  • Which vegetables does your family love to eat?
  • If you’re planting flowers, what are your preferences?
  • What is your budget for your garden?
  • Are you looking for flowers that return on their own each year, or do you prefer to plant anew every spring?

Follow some general rules of thumb:

  • Avoid getting fancy for your first garden – start basic and build your way up to more complicated gardening once you’re comfortable.
  • Choose the areas of your yard for the garden wisely. Consider the sun coverage and exposure to other elements like shade, rain, and wind. You’ll also want to choose a level spot of land, avoiding slopes. If you have a large property, you may also consider a place that’s easy to eyeball and see how it’s working.
  • Do a thorough job of clearing away any debris, weeds, and roots from the ground on the area you want to plant.
  • Check out the health of your soil. Soil is one of the most important elements to the success of your garden. You can test the pH balance of the soil, and if needed, add nutrients in advance to get it garden-ready.

3. Explore What’s Best for You & Your Garden

Once you have a good sense of the garden generalities, it’s time to customize your plan for your plantings. You’ll need to define…

  • Size: How big will your garden be? This choice is variable to your space and preference but can influence what you choose to plant.
  • Location: Where will your garden be in your yard? This is a pivotal decision as you want optimal sun exposure for the specific plants you select as well as consideration for rain, weather, and soil conditions.
  • Geography: Some plants thrive in the south and warmer climates or only in the northwest of the United States. It may simply depend on where you are located on the map so make sure you research your plants’ best geography.
  • Time: The amount of time and effort you can put into your garden is another factor that can influence your choice. If you know you don’t have too much time to dedicate to your gardening effort, you may want to choose heartier plants such as Hostas, Daisies, Hibiscus, Garlic, Chives, Basil, or Oregano that don’t require a lot of TLC. You could also opt to plant in a few pots and save space in your lawn.

4. How to Maintain Your Spring Garden

Now you need to get down to the business of planting your garden. Your next train of thought should be related to maintenance. Here are few tips to get you started – of course, many variables can influence your maintenance, such as your climate and your specific garden’s plants:

  • Find the perfect balance of water to keep your garden growing. Your young garden should never be allowed to dry out to make sure the roots can flourish. Generally in the warmer months watering once per day is recommended.
    • Mulch is a great option to protect your garden from weed overgrowth as well as locking in moisture. Best practices are to cover the soil with about two inches of mulch to prevent the sunlight from hitting the soil. Be sure to choose organic mulch, such as bark or cocoa bean shells, to support healthy soil.
    • Although the mulch will help keep weeds at bay, they can still pop up. Be sure to keep an eye out for weeds, dead vegetation and, of course, pesky bugs or rodents to keep your garden healthy.
garden box

5. Tips for a Raised Bed Garden

You may decide to go with a raised garden for aesthetics or because your soil quality is not great. Either way, a raised bed garden is not difficult to install. If you’re handy, you can do it yourself. If you like the easier option, you can most likely find one at your local nursery or home repair store.

As you plan your spring garden, be sure to take into consideration factors like sunlight, rainfall, soil conditions, as well as your level of commitment, so you can ensure your garden is a success. Spring-Green is standing by if you’re in need some expert advice or support for your garden and your lawn care needs. Since 1977, we’ve partnered with home and business owners in our communities to help them get full enjoyment out of their outdoors.

Get started with a call to Spring-Green.

Top Tips for Spring Tree Care

flowering tree

As we enter into spring and embark on the warm summer months, many homeowners are left grappling with caring for their trees as the seasons change. Questions swirl around the tree-loving homeowner’s mind like: How do I care for my trees as they come out of dormancy? How do I help my trees stay healthy in the spring? These questions and so many others are about to be demystified, so you can feel confident that your trees are going to thrive as they move into spring as well as the rest of the year.

The 1,2,3’s of Caring for Trees This Spring & Year-Round

  • Understand Dormancy and How It Works – Trees have an extremely resilient nature and an inner intelligence that allows them to go dormant during bitter cold periods of winter and, like clockwork, wake up when spring finally brings warmer temps. Scientists determined that trees actually block communication between the cells inside the bud during winter, preventing growth cells from developing.
Sycamore Tree Winter
  • Inspect Your Trees and Shrubs – Once the snow begins to melt, and the temperatures slowly begin to climb, it’s a good time to take a venture outdoors and examine the state of your trees and shrubs. During a harsh winter, the conditions can have an impact on the well being of your trees and shrubbery. Look for injuries from freezing temperatures that may have caused bark to split or browning on evergreens from winter burn. As we enter spring, it’s the essential time to treat any of these issues and prevent them from causing further damage.
  • Prune Away Dead Branches – As we enter spring, it’s time to grab the pruning shears and clear away the dead branches. The general rule of thumb is to prune spring flowering trees and shrubs after they flower in the spring. The flower buds from those plants were set in fall, so shearing or shaping of these plants in the spring will result in fewer flowers. Individual limbs can be removed if they are crossing another limb, are damaged, or if you want to improve the shape of the plant. It’s also highly recommended to prune at this time to improve airflow and light penetration.
prune trees
  • Break Out the Mulch – Your mulching efforts at the start of spring will help retain moisture, even if the temperatures drop to extreme levels as they can do during the unpredictable spring. Mulching has many other benefits, including weed prevention and lessening the likelihood of attacks from borers, ants, and beetles. Three inches of mulch is all you need and be sure to avoid piling mulch up on the trunks of trees to form “mulch volcanoes.”
  • The Time to Water Is Now – Step up your tree watering game as you enter spring and gear up for summer with these best practices – water deeply but infrequently, don’t over water, and water during periods of drought. Also monitor moisture levels, making sure your trees don’t dry out your trees. This is an excellent time to check on the sprinkler system too, ensuring they are working properly, and that the coverage is accurate.
watering tree

Caring for trees and shrubs requires a year-round effort. As we exit the cold months and step into spring, we can set our trees up to thrive by following a few easy instructions. And, if you need some more help with any aspect of your arbor or lawn care, Spring-Green has a team of professionals ready to mobilize and assist you with all your needs.

Contact Your Spring-Green Specialist Today!

Are You Sure You Want To Plant Grass Seed This Spring?

Spring is the time for lawn renewal, gardens and landscape beds. It is the time of year for visits to your local nursery or gardening store to gather new annual and perennial flowers, vegetables, shrubs and maybe even a tree or two. You also might just want to add some color back into your outdoor space after the boring and washed out colors of winter.

It’s only natural that many people want to revitalize their lawn by adding new seed to help increase the density of their turf. Cool season grasses take a beating during the winter, often looking worse when they first start greening up than they do after a particular hot and dry summer. Those first few warm days that seem to cause buds to swell and the first signs of green to poke through make us anxious for the warmth of spring and summer. We want our lawns to look great again, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen – yet.

When Do I Plant Grass Seed in the Spring?

Cool-season grasses, bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue and tall fescue, take time to begin growing in the spring. Soil temperatures have to reach the 45 to 55-degree mark before growth starts to pick-up. It is also the minimum temperature for cool season grass seed to germinate. The soils take a good deal longer to warm than air temperature. In some cases, these soil temperatures may be delayed until late April or even mid-May. If seed is applied now, it could become water-logged and rot before it ever has a chance to germinate.

In order to have success planting grass in the spring, you have to be able to answer “yes” to all of these questions.

9 Questions to Ask Before Planting Grass in the Spring:

  1. Have both annual grasses and broadleaf weeds been controlled in the past and are not a current problem in your lawn?
  2. Have common insect and disease activity been reduced during the past year?
  3. Has the lawn been core aerated or other soil preparation activities taken place?
  4. Does the lawn have a sprinkler system that has been activated for the current year?
  5. If not, do you have sprinklers that can be turned on for two to three weeks, or even longer and may need to be turned on two or three times a day to ensure the seedlings will survive?
  6. Do you understand that the lawn will need more water throughout the summer?
  7. Do you understand that you cannot apply a crabgrass preventer to the area for this year?
  8. Do you understand that you cannot apply any broadleaf weed control to the area until after the seed has germinated and been mowed at least three times?
  9. Are you set to fertilize the new seed to help it grow and prosper?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, than you can go ahead and seed this spring. If not, it’s better to wait until fall to seed your lawn.

Be sure to contact your local neighborhood lawn care team at Spring-Green for all your lawn care needs.

Is Spring Coming Early This Year?

spring coming early this year

If there is one thing I have learned over the last 39 years of being in lawn care is that weather predictions are just that, predictions, and you never know if it’s going to rain, snow, get hot or cold until it’s actually happening. I did a search on the possible forecasts for this winter and they range from one extreme to the other and all things in between. Is spring coming early this year?  Maybe, maybe not, we will just have to wait and see.

At this time of year, I travel across the US conducting training seminars so I get to experience a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions. Being from the Midwest, it was pleasant to travel to a few southern locations and enjoy some very nice weather during the last couple of weeks. However, that does not mean the rest of the country is having warmer temperatures. While it may be warmer in the south, it still is cold in most northern areas. On some occasions, the highs for the day are well below freezing.

The up and down temperatures can and will affect many plants, especially trees, shrubs and many perennials. For the most part, these plants are adapted to temperature extremes and can handle these fluctuations. A lot depends on how long the warmer temperatures last before they nose dive again.

It can be a tricky balancing act at this time of year. As daylight starts to increase, buds start to swell. If the warmer temperatures last for several days, the buds may begin to open. If this happens and the temperatures drop below freezing, the tender tissue of the newly formed leaves may sustain damage, resulting in leaves that have voids or appear distorted.

Many spring flowering trees and shrubs produce flowers before leaves, and the flowers are even more susceptible to damage from freezing temperatures. It is always sad when flowers are damaged in the spring since that is the only time all year they produce flowers.

Spring bulbs, like tulips and daffodils, are very adaptable to freezing temperatures since they are often the first to push through the ground in the early spring. I have seen my own spring bulbs covered in up to 6 inches of snow and they do just fine once the snow melted. I am always amazed at the ability of all plants to overcome the ravages and stresses of extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, and persevere and grow.

Will spring arrive early this year?  We will just have to wait and see.

Have You Started Seeing Grubs In Your Lawn This Year?

grubs

I recently received a call from a Spring-Green Franchise Owner about dealing with grubs in the spring. He had received a call from a customer who stated that they had grubs feeding on their lawn.  This confused the Franchise Owner and the customer as they both thought that grubs were only active during late summer and fall of the year.

The typical annual white grub female lays her eggs in late spring through mid-summer.  These eggs hatch in late summer/early fall as c-shaped grubs and begin feeding on turf roots, soil, and other organic material that they come into contact while foraging for food.  They will feed throughout the fall and even into early winter depending on the soil temperatures.

As it becomes colder, grubs will burrow down into the soil to escape the frost line.  During the Polar Vortex of 2014, these grubs were found to have dug as deep as 36 inches to stay below the frost line.

In the spring, when soil temperatures begin to warm, grubs will begin rising to the surface, feed a little bit, than burrow back into the soil where they make a small capsule in the soil to pupate and emerge as adults in late spring to early summer. Then the whole process begins again.

Unless the spring is very dry, most people don’t even notice spring grub activity. They don’t feed as voraciously in the spring as they do in the fall. They will still feed on turfgrass roots, but usually the grass is growing quickly and the roots are replaced before any damage is noticed.

Most people will discover grubs in their lawns in the spring when they may add or expand a landscape bed. When the turf is removed, the grubs are easily seen. If left alone, they will dig themselves back into the soil. If there are not too many of them, they can be collected, placed in a bag and disposed of in the garbage.

The other time that homeowners will find grubs is when a skunk, raccoon or opossum start digging up the lawn looking for food. These critters do more damage to a lawn than the actual grubs as they tear it up.

Applying an insect control in the spring is usually not recommended as the grubs are not feeding enough to ingest enough of the control material to kill them. The best thing to do is to make sure you apply a grub preventative in early summer. This material will prevent the eggs from hatching or growing, and then grubs will not be a problem in your lawn.

Contact your local Spring-Green office to inquire about our grub preventative service and how they might be a good fit for your lawn.

Mother Nature Can Be The Ultimate Tease

lawn

Every once in a while, Mother Nature teases us with some very warm temperatures while we are still mired in winter. The teasing comes in the form of a brief warm up where temperatures climb well above normal only for a day or so. Such was the case this last weekend when temperatures on Friday and Saturday topped out in the mid 60’s for Northern Illinois. A temporary warm up on a weekend is a true blessing. It was nice to go for a walk without being bundled up against the cold.

Then about a week ago we experienced a heck of a wind storm . Fortunately, it did not accompany any snow, so we just had to deal with numerous branches that had blown out of the trees. Unfortunately these high winds can cause severe damage to trees and buildings, but more often than not the worst thing that happens is the dropping of limbs that are weak or already dead. It is Nature’s way of pruning out the dead wood from a tree and it provides inspiration to go outside for a while and escape the indoors. It also becomes a great opportunity to walk around the yard and look for any other problems around the yard or see if any plants are beginning to pop up.

lawn 2

While I was doing a walk through of my own yard, I saw some of my daffodils poking up in a few places and even some early blooming tulips struggling to find the warmth of the sun. As was mentioned in a previous blog post, these plants are especially adapted to survive if temperatures drop below freezing. In fact, there was one daffodil that had reached about 6 inches in length.

Some perennial plants may go dormant during the winter, but the leaves stay green. Such is the case for all the irises growing in my flower beds. Irises are great low maintenance perennials that require little work to keep them in check.

Every year in the fall I cut back all of the leaves in my yard. Then every couple of years I will split the roots (rhizomes), to make room for the plants to grow even better. I then plant the extras somewhere else in my garden or give them away to a friend.

To bring it all back around by Sunday, the temperatures had dropped back to normal levels and there is even snow predicted for the upcoming week. The warmer weather was enjoyable for a couple of days and that is just going to have to be sufficient for another month or so; it was certainly nice while it lasted.

If you have any questions regarding the crazy weather and its affects on your lawn and landscape contact your local Spring-Green for more information.

Early Spring Lawn Maintenance: 3 Simple Tasks to Start the Season

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Early Spring Lawn Maintenance

March 20 was the first day of spring, and for those of us that live in northern Illinois, we were greeted with about an inch of snow. It should all melt by this afternoon, but it was a reminder that we can still get snow in early spring through March and even into April.

If you are like me, you are itching to get outside and do something in the fresh air. Being cooped up inside the house since last December is beginning to wear on my nerves. I did not have a chance last week to complete one lawn maintenance project that I have heard being repeated by many of my co-workers—cleaning up after their dogs.

Clean Up After Your Dog

Cleaning up after your dog is an important task, not only for your health, but for the health of your dog. Fecal matter can harbor many pathogens that can transmit diseases. If their feces stays on the ground too long, it can result in damage to your lawn or it can work as a fertilizer and your lawn can end up with bright green dots scattered across it. Dog waste can also contribute to phosphorus pollution as it will decompose with the normal spring rains and find its way into lakes, rivers and streams.

Pick Up Branches, Especially If You Have Squirrels

Another lawn maintenance project you can complete in early spring is picking up all the branches that fell during the winter. In my own situation, squirrels seem to relish chomping off the tips of the branches on my big silver maple. I am not sure why they do it, but it happens every year. One of the theories I heard that I agree with is squirrels are neurotic and just like to do quirky things. Other theories have to do with using the branches as nesting materials to feeding on the sugars that can be found in the cambium layer. Regardless of the reason, they can make a big mess, so I clean up the branches every spring.

Apply a Spring Fertilizer

It is still too wet to do much work on the lawn, but it is a good idea to apply a spring fertilizer as long as the soil is not too soft. It has been a long winter, and the grass will start coming out of its long winter nap. It will quickly utilize the fertilizer as it begins growing again. It is impossible to predict how quickly it will warm up this year, but I can guarantee that it will do so.

Cleaning up after your dog, picking up branches and fertilizing your lawn are three tasks you can complete to get your lawn maintenance started in the spring. As it warms up and dries out, then you can start some light raking or planting bed preparation. Another year of mowing your lawn will start soon, so make sure your mower is clean and tuned-up. Be sure to sharpen that mower blade as well.