After a surprisingly snowy February, your landscape is ready to wake up & meet the sun. Good preparation in the spring makes for easy maintenance the rest of the year.
- Start with a thorough spring cleanup. Cut down spent perennials & ornamental grasses. Rake out old leaves & debris. Pull or spray weeds in beds. You can also trim the trees & shrubs, though some may grow back quickly in the spring. Depending on the landscape, we sometimes wait until after “spring flush” to trim fast-growing shrubs.
- Lower the mower to put a clean cut on the lawn. 1.5″-2.5″ is good.
- Grass, trees, & shrubs have used up their reserves for the winter. Give ’em some fertilizer to get them off to a strong start.
- Aerate the lawn! This is an underutilized service in the Treasure Valley, where most lawns sit about hard clay soil. Aerating punctures through the thatch layer & into the soil to create pockets for root development & water infiltration. Beware of shallow sprinkler lines & heads. Sprinkler lines “should” be buried well below the 4″ aerator tine but some installers aren’t a thorough as we are.
- Apply pre-emergent herbicides. This is a MUST if you want to stay ahead of weeds through the year. While these products don’t prevent all weeds or control those already emerged, they are an essential tool for keeping weed pressure low. If you’re a DIY’er, read product labels closely as you generally cannot use the same products on grass that you might in shrub beds.
- Aphids may already be camping on the buds of your ash, roses, & other plants. Suppress them before they start feeding & rapidly spreading. Dormant oil spray & systemic treatments are two excellent option. The former is a highly-refined horticultural oil that smothers insect eggs so they don’t hatch. It’s sprayed directly onto the trunk & lower branches. Best to do this before mid-April or so. Systemic treatments, such as root drenches or cambium injections, are translocated into the leaf tissue so when aphids tap in, it will be their last supper. These treatments are effective AND among the safest methods of control.
- If your sprinkler system uses city water, it should be safe to activate it by late March. If nights are still below freezing, just pause or turn off the controller so you don’t have slippery sidewalks or icy plants.
We don’t know what kind of yard Ben Franklin had in Pennsylvania but when he said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” it could have easily applied to landscaping!