Spring Cleaning for the Garden
Spring is fast approaching, and for most of us it's closer than we can imagine. Now is the time to get your yard prepped to welcome spring's blooms. You may have the itch to get out into the yard and get to work. Lucky for you, there are tasks you can do now to make sure that your yard is ready for Jack Frost's slumber.
On to the Spring Prep Tips:
Pull Those Pesky Weeds!
The first and most important tip to get your yard ready for spring is to clean out the dead pesky weeds that over wintered from last year. Many weeds, even in a dead and dry state, can still drop seed. Also the roots are hardy on most weeds and can have the energy needed to start over new. Digging up dry and dead weeds with a shovel is the best way to remove these pests. This way you are able to get a nice clump around the root, and hopefully are able to yank the whole weeds out and get all the roots. Weeds like morning glory don't need very much of a root to start over new, and take over your prized flower bed.
The more weeds you can remove now will also give your yard and garden the best opportunity to start. The plants that you want to keep won't have to try as hard to compete for sunlight, food, water and space. Your plants will pay you back later with their beauty.
After getting the old weeds removed. Now is the time to put down a pre-emergent. This will help you to get ahead of seedlings that have sprouted, or may be sprouting. The bane of every homeowner is to have their yard look like winter in the summer with all the dandelions. Get a jump on them early!
The Best Part of Being a Kid is Throwing Rocks!
Did you ever think that another step to getting your yard and garden ready for spring is to pick up all those rocks? In some places where the ground can freeze solid; the frost will slowly push and emerge rocks out of the ground. Ones that you never knew were even there. This happens with the freezing and thawing cycle that takes place within your soil. Rocks are a competition for sunlight and fresh air. Very few plants can push their way up and around a rock.
Dead leaves are also a problem. They're nice to cover your flower beds and protect the tender plants over winter. When it comes spring time the leaves will unthaw into a sticky tar light layer. Very little air can get through to your soil. Be sure to rake this layer off, along with any compost that has been placed on top of the soil.
Last season I learned the joy of trying to incorporate the decayed layer of leaves into the soil. It's like trying to work taffy into a jar of sugar. It doesn't work, and you'll still end up with huge chunks of taffy throughout. Get rid of those leaves now, and give your soil the fresh air that it needs.
Test Your Soil
This may seem like a trivial step, but it is one of the most important. In this step we will be able to figure out what nutrients have been depleted from your soil. Depending on what you have grown last year will determine what you may be lacking in nutrients this year. A soil test kit can be purchased from many local gardening centers for a pretty fair price. The home test kit is quick and easy and will give you the quick view of what's going on. If you live in a place that has a local extension office capable of testing soil, their test may be the most beneficial test to do. These in depth tests will measure everything in your soil, even bad diseases!
Your time is valuable, and so is the money in your pocket book. By testing your soil you can save yourself from buying something expensive that your soil can't use, and that may cause more harm than good. Your soil will love you for taking the extra step to make sure it's healthy.
If your soil is workable you can also proceed to mixing it and turning it over. Roughing up the soil will give air to the beneficial bacteria, and tell them that it's time to get to work. You can also work in your fertilizer, remove weeds, and throw out all those pesky rocks. Adding fully composted material to an over wintered garden will re-introduce healthy bacteria and replenish the existing bacteria that will create food for your plants by breaking down plant matter. Adding compost will loosen and aerate the soil. Properly prepared soil will reward your plants with the chance to get the quick start that they will need. By lowering their stress from transplantation, or starting off from seeds.
Get Off My Lawn!
Properly edging the lawn now will save you from paying a bill to the chiropractor later in the summer. Early in the year when the ground is no longer frozen is an excellent time to get out the edger and sever the grass roots that are encroaching onto the boarder to the flower beds. A sharp edge will make sure that you are successful in severing the roots instead of having a dull edge that compacts the roots.
Edging the lawn isn't just for making your yard pretty, and giving it the well manicured look. Even though the goal of most homeowners is to have the most fabulous looking lawn on the block. Edging also provides a border to keep your garden soil in it's place. If run off occurs it will stay in its place and not run all over. A visible boarder will also show other humans that people are not supposed to be in this area. Edging also makes life easier on you when you have to do regular maintenance throughout the rest of the year. Most edging is low to the ground, giving you the chance to run the lawn mower up over without damaging the cutting blade.
It may sound like a lot of work, but hey, we got the itch to get outside and play in the dirt. Follow these few steps of advice and enjoy having the best yard you can have all year long. At least until next year when we're pulling weeds and throwing stones again.
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