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Springing Forward with Smart Landscaping

During spring, it’s important to make sure you’ve set the stage to support the growth and health of your yard’s natural elements before spending money to embellish them. Here are five key tasks for spring gardeners to tackle for a healthy, hearty yard:

Remove weeds: Do you have a weed problem? If so, tackle it now. If the problem is minor, manually remove weeds by their roots using a fork-like garden tool sold at garden stores. If your lawn is overrun, consider working manually (as above) to remove them and then re-balancing the lawn with natural or other supplements. If you have isolated areas with concentrations of weeds, consider creating a “weed barrier” over it with newspaper or tarp-like plastic cloths: This kills weeds (and, alas, associated grasses) within weeks, but leaves a clean slate for new plants.

Re-sod: If your home has no grass yet or you’ve been waiting to re-sod your lawn, spring is the time to do that. Re-sodding early in nature’s growth season will allow new grass to take root and establish itself.

Revive lawns by de-thatching or aerating: Depending on your climate, soil, and grass type, you may need to de-thatch or aerate your lawn. Thatch is a layer of accumulated debris that settles beneath many grass types and decomposes naturally, but excess thatch buildup can make for an unhealthy lawn. To remove thatch, you’ll need to use a special de-thatching rake or a de-thatching machine with vertical cutters that loosen thatch. Aerating involves punching small holes into your lawn so that grass roots can “breathe” more oxygen and better absorb, water, fertilizer, or other nutrients. Aerating tools are sold at most hardware and home stores and during spring many landscaping companies offer low-cost aerating services.

Prepare flower beds: If your flower beds are empty, spring’s the time to introduce new plants. Consider a mix of perennials as well as annuals, but before planting loosen or turn the soil in flower bed at least once to make planting easy and to shake up soil and prepare it for planting. 
Prune and trim: Since plants and shrubs grow quickly in warm-weather months, curb and control the direction of new growth by pruning and trimming them at the start of the warm season. For advice on how to care for particular plants featured in your yard, consider asking for help from your local branch of the American Horticultural Society’s Master Gardeners program (http://www.ahs.org/master_gardeners/).