How to Prep the Yard for Spring 2016

York National Realty Inc. |

By: Stacey Freed

In the Canadian winter months, snowmen are the only detectable “life” in our yards, but now that Frosty is turning into a puddle and the ground is beginning to defrost,  it’s time to jump start the lawn resuscitation and avoid a muddy disaster zone come April.  Here’s what to do:

  • Assess the Mess “As soon as you can stand being outdoors for an extended period of time, see what hand you’ve been dealt by Mother Nature,” says Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Search your property for thrown branches, dead leaves, and other debris. Clear it away so you’re able to do a general inspection of your soil, lawn, trees, shrubs, and garden structures. See what grass is coming back and what areas might need exstra work. Get rid of broken tree limbs. Now’s the time to make a plan. 
  • Rake and Wake Just as you like to hunker down on those dark winter days, so, too, do your grass and trees. “As soon as the snow fades, vigorously rake that grass to wake it up and begin to get it to grow,” says Walt Nelson, horticulture program leader for the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Monroe County, N.Y. Rake out areas of, dried, dead grass that can be thick and deep. If you don’t, it will keep oxygen and sunlight from other plants and grass. Check for fungus and mold growth. Don’t worry if you run across “snow mold”. A pinkish or gray web over matted blades of grass, or possibly just a slimy brown mess. Despite its name, it’s rarely serious. Gently rake it out and it will dry.
  • Weed Out Weeds If your finding a lot of crabgrass on your lawn it’s time to make a decision. If your crabgrass is out of control or you’re just hell-bent on getting rid of it, here’s what you need to know: Preventing crabgrass is all about timing. You want to get it under control before they start germinating. You need to use a preemergent crabgrass control before the soil temperature hits about 55 degrees and the crabgrass begins growing. “But most people aren’t walking around with thermometers to measure their soil’s temperature,” Koski says, “Blooming forsythia is a good indicator you should put out your crabgrass preventer. That will be a different time in Michigan than in Virginia.” You can choose a toxic or an organic preemergent such as corn gluten meal, but understand that with the organic, Nelson says, it will take two to three years of applications to be effective.
  • Trim the Trees Move on to trees and shrubs as the yard defrosts, but the garden is not yet growing. “Trim out the dead, and it’s off to the races on another growing season,” Nelson says. “You can do the shrubs on your own, but if you’re concerned about trees, hire a professional.” The important thing about trimming is to “be careful about trimming growth,” Henriksen says. “You want new growth to get healthy enough to sustain itself in case of a second cold snap.” For flowering shrubs, wait until flowers bloom so you don’t cut off limbs that will be producing flowers or fruit.
  • Go Beyond the Grass Winter is hard on other garden elements. Making sure your irrigation system works properly, and checking to see if there’s damage to any garden lighting. Fix broken or damaged patio furniture and any wooden structures. Even clean off and refresh your deck once it’s warm enough that power-washing won’t create a deck ice rink.

Don’t forget to tune up the lawn mower and string trimmer. Clean, sharpen, and oil your pruning shears so they’ll be ready when spring arrives.

Prepping the yard won’t be just a single weekend event, but if you get the heavy lifting out of the way early, and tackle these key elements. It won’t be long before you’re leaving your socks and boots behind, and feeling the warm, soft grass between your toes.

Call us if you don’t have a yard and would like to find the house with a perfect backyard. There is still time left, you could be in your new house before all the snow is gone.