It may still be winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning for spring! We’ve prepared this handy checklist to help you get ready to wake up your lawn and garden, in order to make sure your home stays as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside!
- Even things out. If the ground throughout your lawn is uneven, one of the best things you can do is to flatten things out. For raised spots or humps, take a shovel and dig out the high spot, then replace the soil until it is even with the surrounding area. Low spots get the same treatment – dig in a bit to remove grass and weed roots, then fill back up with a layer of soil.
- Decide whether or not to aerate. Take a garden fork and stick it in the ground. If the tines only penetrate an inch or two into the soil, your soil may have compacted over time. Consider renting an aerator (or hiring a lawn care company) to loosen up your soil so that grass seeds can take root and become healthy blades of grass to fill in thin spots and prevent weeds.
- Adding Grass Seed. Identify bare or brown spots and reseed with a grass type that is appropriate for your lawn. Once you’ve seeded, be sure to water regularly and fertilize with a low-nitrogen additive.
- Identifying trouble spots. If you have stubborn bare spots, you may want to contact your local Agricultural or Extension Office and request a soil test. These tests can reveal hidden conditions in your soil that may prevent grass from growing.
- Add herbicide with care. If weeds are rampant in your yard, consider applying a pre-emergent herbicide before the weeds begin to grow. Know that if you apply an herbicide like this, you won’t be able to sow additional grass seed for several months, as the herbicide will also prevent the grass seeds from germinating.
- Prep garden beds. If you laid down mulch in the fall or early winter to help preserve your garden beds, be sure to remove it before adding topsoil. Or, if the mulch has composted well throughout the winter, take a garden hoe and work it into the top layer of dirt.
- Trim trees and bushes. Start pruning flowering trees and bushes early – if you wait until they start to bloom, you will shock the tree and cause it to produce fewer blooms (and a smaller crop, if it’s a fruit tree).
- Start seeds indoors. Give your seeds the opportunity to put down some roots before you transplant them into the garden bed. Doing so can help your plants thrive in the event of lingering cold temperatures – plus, it can cut down on the time between planting and blooming or bearing fruit!
- Plant hearty vegetables. Hearty winter vegetables can handle uncertainty in the weather a lot better than the more finicky spring and summer vegetables. Lettuce, onions, potatoes and artichokes are all on this list and will produce a nice crop come early spring.
- Divide your perennials. If you have perennial plants, now’s the time to dig them up and split them at the crown (the bulblike area at the base of the plant). Perennials that are split will grow bigger and stronger every year, and this process has the added bonus of creating more plants each time. If you’re out of room in your garden, consider giving some of your extras to a friend or family member after splitting and replanting what you need.