As you watch those last bits of snow melt from your lawn, and the tiniest pops of green begin to emerge from the soil, you know that spring has arrived. Spring and summer are precious months in Canada as these warmer seasons seem to fly by so quickly. To maximize your enjoyment of this time of year, you will want to prepare your garden early in the season.
Clean Up Your Yard
Winter can leave your yard looking disheveled and unkempt. Naturally, then, you will need to begin your spring clean-up by ensuring you have all the right tools and equipment available to whip it back into shape. These items include: gardening gloves, a trowel, rake and shovel, an aerator (can be rented or borrowed), lawn mower, compost and fertilizer.
Begin by taking a walk through your yard to check for loose debris, litter and broken tree branches. This is also the time to check your yard for more serious damage, including cotton like snow mould, which can cover parts of the lawn or broken branches in trees. You will also want to clean out any leaves which have blown into flower beds and clean up any foliage remaining from last season. Gently check for tender new growth that may be hidden under dead leaves. To trim the old foliage, cut about an inch or two above the new growth. While you are cleaning up any dead or broken tree branches in the garden, this is a great opportunity to shape your trees.
Spring Lawn Care
Your lawn will need to be raked to remove dead grass and thatch. Thatch is a layer of living and dead organic matter that occurs between the grass leaf blades and the soil, and is made up mostly of old grass stems and roots. Removing thatch is key to keeping the lawn looking its best throughout the growing season.
Next you will need to aerate your lawn. Due to snow and frost during winter, the lawn becomes compacted. Aerating cuts small holes in the lawn to allow water, air and nutrients to penetrate deep into the soil.
Overseeding the lawn will help guarantee that your lawn will look full and green all season. Seed should not be applied too early; waiting until the temperature has reached at least 12 degrees is advisable.
Fertilizing your lawn will provide it with all of the nutrients it desperately needs. Wait until the snow is melted and the lawn begins to show some green. Fertilizer will deliver food to your lawn as well as help to minimize weeds. Watering your lawn less frequently but for longer periods of time is more beneficial than frequent shallow watering sessions.
Prepping Your Soil
Plants and flowers thrive in a well-prepared garden. Your soil will have lost important nutrients over the winter and it is important to replenish and rejuvenate it. To begin, turn the soil over with a garden shovel and rake it out, removing any weeds that may have grown. Then you will need to add compost or manure to the soil to replace nutrients. You can use compost from your own bin, or it can be purchased. Ideally you’ll want to add the compost or manure to your garden a couple of weeks before planting so that it has time to mix well with the existing soil and won’t burn the roots of your new plants.
Perennials, Annuals and Vegetables
Healthy perennial plants will grow and bloom each spring because their root systems go dormant in the winter. Perennials generally bloom for a single season: summer, spring or fall. Dividing your perennial plants offers many benefits. Perennials grow quickly and dividing them helps to ensure their health and protects them from diseases and infections. Dividing of perennials can be done in early spring before the plant begins to show signs of growth. Early perennials like forsythia, dianthus and ground phlox, among others, can be planted in the ground in April, although they may not thrive until the soil is warm later in May or June. Annuals grow from seeds and only grow for one season.
Annuals produce more flowers and bloom for a longer period of time than perennials. Annuals bloom from spring till the first frost. Cold weather annuals like pansies, dusty miller and bacopa, among others, do well this early in the growing season and can best handle temperatures to minus two or three if watered well in the day. Generally in Canada, most people wait until later in May to plant annuals as they grow more successfully in warmer temperatures.
Hardy vegetables like onions, potatoes, artichokes and some varieties of lettuce grow well in cool weather and can be planted now. Some types of vegetable plants are best suited for growth during the warmth of summer.
Increase The Value Of Your Home
If you are planning to sell your home during the spring or summer months, you are wise to invest some time and effort in your outdoor space. Even if your garden is simple, it is best to keep it tidy and so that it adds curb appeal to your property. A spring garden and a manicured yard can add great value to a home when they are well maintained and cared for.