Take advantage of the longer spring days and get out in your yard! Do these tasks now and you’ll be off to a great start when summer rolls around.
The first task on your yard maintenance list should be raking. A solid spring raking will remove dead grass that can build up and become thatch. While you rake, be sure to examine your lawn for any matted patches caused by snow mold. Get rid of the damaged grass and allow the new spring grass to sprout more easily and evenly.
2. Clean Up Debris
Another priority for your yard maintenance is picking up debris in the form of leaves, rocks, twigs and branches. This will make your yard look neater while promoting new grass growth. By cleaning up debris, you also make it easier to assess winter damage.
3. Pull Up Dead Annuals
Removing last year’s annual plants is next up on your yard maintenance checklist for spring. It should be pretty easy to simply pull up those dead annuals by hand. This will create space for new plants and make your landscape look healthier. Furthermore, it will help loosen the soil, allowing for air, water and nutrients to better circulate.
4. Prune Shrubs
If you had shrub shelters protecting your bushes, it’s time to remove them and take a look at what needs to be pruned. Remove dead and damaged branches. You may also need to prune some live branches in order to give the shape of your shrub a more pleasing look.
5. Straighten up Your Planting Beds
Taking care of your planting beds is another must-do spring yard maintenance task. You’ll want to begin by removing debris that accumulated during the winter, pulling any weeds and gently raking back mulch to allow the sun to dry and warm the soil, which boosts spring growth. Also, promote new growth by turning the soil in your planting beds. Just be sure the soil is ready to be turned by picking up a handful, squeezing it and dropping it on the ground. If the soil crumbles, you’re good to go. If not, it’s still too wet and should be left alone.
If you live in a climate that doesn’t get snow, you’re spring yard maintenance won’t include things like dealing with snow mold. Nevertheless, tasks like fertilizing are important no matter where you live. Feed your lawn the nutrients required for it thrive and become beautifully green. The best times to fertilize grass are spring and fall.
Be sure to test your soil’s PH level. You can do this by collecting 1 cup of soil from different parts of your garden and putting 2 spoonfuls into separate containers. Next, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the soil. If it fizzes, you have alkaline soil, with a pH between 7 and 8. If it doesn’t fizz, add distilled water to the other container until 2 teaspoons of soil are muddy. Then add 1/2 cup baking soda. If it fizzes, you have acidic soil, most likely with a pH between 5 and 6. If it doesn’t fizz at all, it is neutral with a pH of 7. Then, choose a fertilizer with a proper blend that balances out the acidity/alkalinity of your yard.
7. Inspect Driveways, Paths and Paver Patios
If your winter was especially cold, inspect driveways and paths for cracks and raised pavers in the spring.
8. Apply Pre-emergent Herbicides
Stop weeds and crabgrass from becoming a problem this spring by applying pre-emergent herbicides to your lawn. Pre-emergent herbicides form a shield on the grass that inhibits seed germination. Be sure to apply herbicides when the soil temperature is around 55 degrees F or above for at least 36 to 72 hours, and ideally two weeks before seed germination. In warmer climates, you can do this in March. In colder climates, April is best.
9. Apply Post-emergent Herbicides
While some post-emergent herbicides state on the label “Do not apply during spring green-up,” the use of other post-emergenct herbicides can help combat severe weed infestation like dandelions that show up right away in the spring. You’ll want to spot-spray dandelions with a post-emergent herbicide that doesn’t kill grass.
10. Plant Trees, Shrubs and Perennial Flower Borders
Early spring is deal for planting trees and shrubs, as well as hardy perennial flower borders. You’ll want to be sure you wait until the last frost date has passed before planting annuals and tender perennials. In warmer climates like southern California and Florida, this will be between the end of January to the end of February. In colder climates like North Dakota and Maine, this will be in the month of May. And moderate climates like Kansas and Pennsylvania will see the last frost date between the end of March and the end of April.
11. Pressure Wash Hardscaping
The patio, walkways, deck, walls and other structures in your yard need a good cleaning in the spring. So, pressure wash moss-covered patios, dingy decks and other hard structures that take on a layer of grime during the winter. Be sure you use a pressure washer with a PSI under 1,200 for wooden structures (concrete, brick and stone are much more durable).
12. Check Sprinkler and Irrigation Systems
Be sure to check your sprinkles or irrigation system in the spring so you can provide proper water to your plants while also saving water. Run your irrigation system through all the zones manually and walk the property to make sure none of the sprinkler heads are missing or damaged. Be sure all heads are spraying the lawn and not the house, street, sidewalk or porch and adjust as needed.
13. Inspect for Drainage Problems
A buildup of water in your yard can kill trees, plants and grass, encourage fungus and disease and damages wooden structures. If you discover soggy areas after the rest of the yard has dried out, start thinking about next steps.
14. Reseed Bare Patches
While late summer and early fall are the best times to reseed any dead areas, spring is the second best time. You should overseed thinning lawns in late spring, as warm-season grasses begin active growth. Water the new seed a couple of times a day until the grass is about 1-1/2 inch high. Use a product like Scotts Starter Fertilizer, which is formulated for new grass. You’ll want to spread the seed so that you have about 15 seeds per square inch.
15. Tune-Up Your Lawn Mower
Once you’ve cleared out and cleaned up your lawn, soon it’ll be time to mow! Use early spring to ensure your lawn mower works properly.
Contributing Author: Family Handyman