The key to a beautiful garden is preparation. Everything from the lawn to the vegetable garden requires us to think about what each area will need well in advance. Spring is your chance to start the season off on the right foot.
We all want to have the best lawn on the block – a green, thick, weed free lawn, but how do you make that a reality? Follow these steps:
- Clean-Up: In early spring, rake the lawn to remove leaves, twigs and other debris that may have accumulated over the winter.
- Crabgrass: If you had crabgrass last year, now is the time to prevent it from reoccurring this year. Crabgrass is a summer weed that germinates March-May. Spring is the best time to control it using crabgrass preventer when temperatures are between 50 and 55 degrees for 3 or more consecutive days. (Or when the forsythia bloom). If you are planning to also apply grass seed to your lawn, you must use crabgrass preventer that is safe to use while seeding. This may seem complicated, but it’s super easy. The bags of crabgrass preventer are labeled very clearly and if you shop at a quality garden center like Hicks, we’re here to help. Other weeds such as dandelions are best controlled with a broadleaf weed killer if only a few weeds exist.
- Seeding: Now is the time to fill in bare spots in the lawn, but the best time for a major lawn renovation is mid-August – through fall.
- Mowing: Resume mowing when grass begins actively growing. Mower blade height should be set to 2 ½ – 3 inches during this time of year.
- Liming: Now is a great time to lime – if it is needed. Lawns prefer a pH range of 6.2 to 6.8 (6.5 is optimum). Lime is used to raise the soil pH if it is below the desired range. A proper pH is very important to a healthy lawn. Grass absorbs fertilizers and other minor elements best when the pH is within optimal range – leading to a healthier lawn with fewer weeds and less fungus. Bring a half-cup of dry soil into our Lawn & Garden Information Desk; we will gladly test your soils pH for FREE and the results are available while you wait. You can also buy a pH test kit if you would prefer to test it yourself.
Garden Beds planted with trees, shrubs and perennials is another area of the garden you can begin to work on in March. I tend to wait for St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) to begin work, but any time the weather is nice is a good time to get out there.
- Clean-Up: I start by raking up leaves and other debris that has collected in the beds over the winter.
- Pruning: Now is a great time to prune out dead and broken branches while the plants have no leaves on them and you can easily see what needs to be removed.
- Fertilize: Spring is a great time to fertilize trees and shrubs with a quality plant food.
- Mulching: 1 ½ to 2 inches of mulch will help to prevent weeds from growing in your beds and gives the yard a “finished” look.
Vegetable gardening should not be overlooked in early spring. Now is a great time to decide where the garden will go and how much space you have available. So many of us wait until after we’ve already purchased the plants to decide where the garden and that is when we discover we have purchased too many plants! Save time and money and produce more fruit and vegetables by taking the time to measure now. Then, when you shop for your plants you can use the measurements to plant the space you have. (Tip: take some pictures of the area with your phone as well as a picture of the piece of paper with the measurements on it – that way the information is with you no matter when you decide to shop!)
When to Plant Vegetables: Early April is a great time to plant cool weather crops such as lettuce, onions, carrots, kale, radishes and spinach to name a few. These types of veggies perform best in daytime temperatures that are around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit and will tolerate some light frost. They are harvested in late June through July before the heat of summer.
By taking the time to prepare your yard and garden in March, and then following through on watering, pruning and fertilizing the rest of the season, you will ensure your yard and garden is lush, green, flowering and beautiful.
How to Seed a Thinned Out Lawn
1. Rake out and remove dead grass and weeds.
2. Apply a good organic fertilizer and lime (if needed).
3. In the thinned-out area only, sow a seed mixture that best suits the area’s conditions; we can help you select the right mixture.
4. Top dress seeded area with a light covering (1/8”) of premium topsoil to help keep the seed moist and to hide it from the birds.
5. Gently water. Check for water daily to keep soil surface constantly moist for the next few weeks. Never let a newly seeded area dry out.
6. Fertilize the entire lawn with an organic fertilizer 6 to 8 weeks after seed germinates.
To determine how much mulch or stone you need, measure the area you would like to cover and then follow the instructions below. A two inch thickness is recommended.
For Mulch: (1) 2 cubic foot bag covers approximately 12 sq. ft. of space 2 inches deep.
For Stone: One (.5) cubic foot bag covers approximately 3 square feet of space 2 inches deep.