Temps might still be a long way from shorts and t-shirts, but now that your soil is warming up, it’s time to tackle your spring lawn care tasks.
Especially if you want a gorgeous yard with the least amount of hassle. These eight tips should help ensure your success.
1. Seed the lawn
Before soil temps reach 18°C (or 65°F), spread grass seed over any bare or thin spots. The sooner the grass takes root, the faster it can box out weeds. Or better yet, put down sod — it fights crabgrass and weeds better.
2. Clean out debris
Your yard is waking up from a months-long slumber, and it’s looking a little groggy with branches, leftover leaves, and clumps of yard debris scattered about. Not to mention a winter’s worth of garbage that might have blown in. Clean that unsightly detritus from your lawn and gardens after the overnight air temps consistently rise above freezing. (Before that, it actually helps protect your grass, like a toasty blanket.)
3. Apply fertilizer with pre-emergent herbicide
It sounds like an old gardener’s tale, but even master gardeners follow it: If the bright yellow forsythia bushes are beginning to bloom, it’s time to apply a slow-release fertilizer with pre-emergent herbicide to fight crabgrass. Apply before it germinates — when the soil warms to about 12°C (or 55°F), which is when forsythia hits peak bloom.
4. Plant bare-root plants
Once the soil in your garden is thawed and dry enough to crumble, rather than clump, in your hand — you can get your green thumb back into action outdoors. Cool-season growers like pansies, snapdragons, and bare-root trees and shrubs all get a boost from the cool, wet conditions.
5. Wash away salt
Most plants don’t grow well if they’re feeling salty (unless they’re saline-tolerant, like daylilies). So once roadside soil has thawed, give your exposed plants a good watering to dilute any salt that sprayed up from slushy winter traffic on your driveway.
6. Prune and fertilize
As long as your soil crumbles instead of clumping (revealing it’s sufficiently dry), now’s the time to prune fruit trees, shade trees, and summer-blooming shrubs, and remove old growth from perennials that didn’t receive a fall pruning. You’ll also want to fertilize trees and shrubs before they begin their spring growth.
7. Preorder perennials
Even if you can’t plant them just yet, take advantage of the 10-20% off deals offered by many nurseries in early spring. Bonus: Being an early bird means you’ll also get the best selection! Mail-order catalogues like the ever-popular T&T Seeds right here in Manitoba is also a great source. The plants start off small but are incredibly hardy.
8. Get your mower ready
Once grass reaches 2.5 to 3.5 inches tall, it’s time for your mower’s annual maiden voyage. So prep now for a season of success, rather than stalling, wheezing, and cursing. Get an oil change, new spark plugs, and a clean air filter, and sharpen the blades to ensure a clean first cut that won’t damage your new grass.
Do these eight simple tasks now to ensure that you enjoy your yard all summer long.