26 May Summer 2020 Landscape Tips
Well, we certainly have had a nice Spring, haven’t we? The flowers started blooming, and your grass got greener. However, the warmer months are upon us! It is never too soon to start thinking about your yard in terms of it looking its best for the summer season. Here are some tips that can help you get there:
Test Your Soil
More than 100 land-grant schools in the U.S. have an extension service that will perform soil testing for a small fee. You can find the closest office to your house on the United States Department of Agriculture website. The results you receive will tell you about the nutrients in your soil and the soil’s pH balance. Handling it this early will help you make informed decisions about fertilizing and treating pH. If your soil has low pH, meaning it is acidic, you can spread lime now. If you have high alkaline soil, add elemental sulfur. Either way, you will benefit from spring rains, which will help the soil absorb what you’ve laid down. But you will want to tackle this task now – sending in samples and waiting for results can take several weeks.
Clear Leaves and Debris
While it is generally fine to leave the leaves where they are in the fall, large dense swaths of yard debris can block the sun from reaching your lawn, making it difficult for grass to sprout at all. If you did not use a leaf blower last fall, do some cleanup now. Use the collected leaves for compost. Better still, mulch the fallen leaves with the mulching kit or attachment for your mower or tractor. The churned-up clippings will feed your lawn and reduce the amount of fertilizing.
Bags of fertilizer display three numbers separated by hyphens. The numbers refer to the ratio among nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), in that order. Again, your soil test will let you know what nutrients your soil is lacking. For grasses planted and intended for cooler, northern climates, put down at least one application of fertilizer in spring (if you need fertilizer). Bagged fertilizer is best distributed with a spreader, either a push model or a snap-on version that attaches to your riding mower.
Repair Walkways and Edging
Winter can be brutal on pavers, walkways, and driveways. Aside from damage done by your snow blower or a plow, frost heave – the natural freeze-and-thaw cycle – can split concrete and knock stones out of whack. To keep out water and help keep a problem from worsening, seal any new gaps in concrete with concrete-crack filler. Secure loose pavers or patio stones temporarily. If the damage is extensive, consider having a landscape contractor dig up and reset the stones, making sure to start 6 inches below the soil line to minimize shifts from future frost heave. Tackling this project now, while pros are less busy, may cost a bit less than booking a repair at the height of the season.
Now that you have got the practicalities of your garden makeover out of the way, you can start to get creative by planting the flower beds. Before you can plant anything, you will need to prep the beds. You can do this by digging out any weeds that you find. It is important that you dig the full root out or they will be back very quickly. Then put some compost down and start to plant some flowers. Think about planting some low-maintenance perennial plants that will come back next year. Once planted, you should add plenty of mulch around the edges to stop the weeds coming through and ruining the flower bed.