With one of the coldest and snowiest Februaries on record, homeowners have to undertake some different activities to ready the lawn and garden for the spring so both are heathy and vibrant for the summer and fall.
With more than 20 inches of snow and historically cold weather buffeting the Puget Sound in February, people will have to take time to assess their property for damage, said Patricia Lovejoy, owner of Garden Treasures Nursery and Organic Farm, which is located on Highway 530 in Arlington. As the weather warms and spring approaches, homeowners should examine trees for any damaged branches that need to be removed. They should also check out any perennial plants on the property.
“They need to start cutting last year’s perennial foliage,” Lovejoy said. “There’s a lot of broken branches because of the snow.”
Homeowners should be removing any brown branches on the shrubs.
Once dangling and dead branches on shrubs and trees are removed, people should start preparing their lawn and garden for the spring growing season.
νAmend the soil so that it is the right consistency — just crumbling when lifting it. Soil that is too muddy after spring thaw can harden, making it difficult for plants to flourish later on. Speak with representatives at a local lawn and garden center about which types of amendments you can add to the soil in your particular area to enrich it.
Lovejoy said Garden Treasures uses Garden and Bloome to amend the soil at their 40-acre farm. “It has a really good combination of organic material.”
She added the soil tends to become compact after the winter and it needs to be lifted to where it is “fluffy” which helps roots to grow.
νOne of the first steps is to apply a pre-emergent weed killer to get a head start knocking out weeds that can plague the lawn during the growing season. Killing weeds at the roots early on can mean far fewer hassles in spring and summer, and may prevent new generations of weeds from cropping up each year.
νWhile it may be tempting to take a prematurely warm day as a sign that spring is in full force and purchase a bunch of annuals, it’s better to know the last of the possible frost dates (check “The Farmer’s Almanac”); otherwise, you may waste time and money planting flowers or vegetables only to have them zapped by another frosty day.
Gardeners should consider planting heartier items in the early spring such as perennial herbs such as oregano, mint, lavender and thyme, Lovejoy said. She added items such as brassicas and potatoes and onions do well when planted in the early spring. More heat sensitive items — tomatoes, basil, peppers, zucchini and peppers. She added the early spring is a great time of the year to plant strawberries and fruit trees.
νLawn and garden experts at The Home Depot suggest filling in bare patches of lawn now by mixing a few shovelfuls of soil with grass seed. Then apply this patch to the bare areas, water, and continue to care for the area until the spot fills in.
Because of the mild December and January coupled with the cold and snowy February, property owners may need to check their lawn for any dead spots. If there’s any yellowing grass, then it might be time to add some fertilizer, Lovejoy said. Also if there’s any tall grass on the property, it needs to be cut, and an owner should examine areas of the yard underneath trees.
The early spring is also a great time to check the condition of structures, equipment and outdoor spaces at home and provide enough time to clean, repair and maintain equipment and structures.
νSpend a day in the garage or shed tending to the lawn mower and other gardening equipment. Clean all tools and ensure that everything works, repairing parts as needed.
νGive outdoor entertaining spaces a good scrubbing, clearing away dirt and grime that may have accumulated over the winter. Use a leaf blower to blow away any leftover leaves.
νCheck if the front porch, railings or decking need painting and/or staining. Tackle these projects when the weather is cooler so everything will be ready for those peak spring days.
νThink about any annuals you might want to plant in the landscape this year that will complement any existing shrubbery or perennials. Come up with a theme so that the entire yard is cohesive.
Property owners should visit nurseries and hardware stores in their community and develop a rapport with employees, who might be able to offer suggestions that help with the lawn and garden.