Posted in gardens, loreeebee.ca, nature

Spring Cleaning your Gardens and Lawn

Just like the inside of your home, your gardens and lawn will benefit from a good spring cleaning too. As soon as the snow disappears from your lawn and garden you can start the spring cleaning.

Spring Lawn Care

When your lawn is dry (not spongy to walk on) give it a good rake to remove all the dead grass and leaves. Core aeration is recommended after raking to allow oxygen and nutrients to penetrate into the root system of your lawn, especially if your soil is heavily compacted.(as most lawns are in this area) Core aeration is also effective in the fall, one less thing to do in spring.

If your lawn has a lot of crabgrass and broad leaf weeds (dandelions) you can treat it to a weed and feed product.  The ones containing corn gluten are particularly effective if used before the weed seeds have a chance to germinate.  I sprinkle corn gluten right on the snow when there is only a small amount of snow left on my lawn, because as soon as the snow is gone, the weeds start to germinate and within a few days the crab grass growth is visible.  

You can also overseed your lawn now (but only if you have NOT applied something for weeds, otherwise wait 6 weeks to seed) by raking in topsoil and sprinkling grass seed on the soil.  This is best done before a rainy spell as the seeds should be kept wet until they germinate.

Clean Debris out your Gardens

Your gardens can also use a good raking early, but be sure to use a plastic rake and a gentler touch, so tender dormant perennials are not damaged.  Remove all the dead, but still intact leaves, last year’s annual (annuals are plants that you must replant each year) plantings and the twiggy pieces of last years growth on the perennials (perennials are plants that come back on their own each year).  Generally speaking, if the twiggy pieces break off easily with a gentle rake, it is safe to remove them.  

Woodier perennials (lavender, sage, hibiscus etc) need a bit more time to rebound from winter and should not be cut back until new growth is visible.

Prune Shrubs, Divide and Plant Perennials

Shrubs that bloom in summer or fall (weigela, pink spirea, burning bush etc) can be pruned in early spring, while those that bloom early in spring (forsythia, lilacs, magnolia etc) should not be pruned until after they bloom.

Dividing perennials is best done this time of year too; dig up the overgrown clumps, divide them with a sharp spade, and plant in their new locations.  Fill in bare spots with new perennials. These jobs can be done as soon as the ground thaws.

Annuals however, should not be planted until the danger of overnight frost is gone, usually late May in this area.

Amend Your Garden Soil and add Mulch

Once all of my perennials have re-emerged, the weeds and old annuals are removed, and the necessary pruning is done, I like to amend the soil around them with soil, compost and peat moss. This triple mix product can be purchased already combined.  

A layer of cedar mulch (I prefer the dark brown or black) is the final touch, but to prevent your plants from rotting, be sure not to apply the mulch too close to the base/stalks/stems of the plants.

Finishing Touches

The last step is to retrieve the outdoor furniture and whimsical touches from their winter storage. Then enjoy the most important part, take a few minutes out of your busy life to sit down, relax and admire your efforts…

Posted in gardening

Core Aeration: Improve your Lawn and Create Curb Appeal this Spring…

Core aeration is the most effective way to improve the condition of your lawn this spring, creating curb appeal for your home.   Is your lawn patchy and full of weeds with the soil so compacted that you cannot stick a shovel into it?  Under these conditions, the grass you do have cannot compete with the weeds for air and water.

Be sure to use a core and not a spike aerator.  A core aerator removes plugs of soil, leaving holes for water, air and nutrients to penetrate the roots of your lawn.  A spike aerator, on the other hand, pushes plugs into your soil, further compacting it, and doing more damage than good.  You can rent a gas-powered core aerator and aerate your own lawn, or call a landscaping company to do it for you.  Manual aerators are great for small areas as they eliminate the noise and air pollution, not to mention provide good exercise!  I have a small manual aerator and am able to handle most (small) lawns in Kanata.

Do not aerate too early in the spring when the soil is still soggy.  The soil must be thawed and dry; a few days after a good rain is ideal.  If you start a little later in the season when your grass is already growing, cut the lawn shorter than you usually do, and water it deeply (unless it has rained) a few times,  two days before aerating.   Remove (by hand) as many weeds as possible as well as any dead grass.  You are now ready to aerate!…

If you would like to go a step further after aerating your lawn, you can now top-dress and overseed .  Sprinkle your lawn with compost, composted (not raw) manure, or coffee grounds and rake in to provide nutrients for the roots and to encourage worms.   Spread grass seed according to package directions; be sure to use seed designated for sun, shade and/or high traffic areas. Cover the seed lightly with soil, no more than 1/4 inch.

Water your lawn well, and keep it damp until sprouts appear, approximately two weeks.  When the new grass starts growing, water less often, but for longer periods of time, to encourage deep roots.  Do not cut your newly seeded lawn until it is greater than 3 inches long.  Do not apply any weed killers for at least two months.

A lush green lawn significantly enhances the effort you put into your gardens and provides curb appeal.  Core aeration, top-dressing and overseeding are three simple and cost efficient ways to create curb appeal for your home.  Spring will be here any day now, get planning!

 

Lorieb is the mother of three sons, residing in Kanata, Ontario, Canada.  She is the proud owner of GARDENS4U, and spends most of her time designing, planting, and restoring gardens.  Her other interests include reading and writing.  Please check out her website at www.gardens4u.ca