Amazing Yard Maintenance Strategies You Need to Know

Amazing Yard Maintenance Strategies You Need to Know

You’ve made it through another winter! Now it’s time to get your yard prepped for spring.

There are some key tasks you need to tackle over the next few weeks to ensure your lawn, gardens, and landscaping look their best when warmer weather hits.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the top yard maintenance jobs to focus on and give you pro tips for success. Let’s dig in!

1. Know When to Prune Different Plants

Proper pruning keeps your trees, shrubs, and bushes healthy and looking sharp. But timing matters, as you don’t want to accidentally cut off flower buds.

For summer bloomers like butterfly bushes, hydrangeas, and roses, prune in late winter/early spring before new growth emerges. This gives the plant time to develop branches that will carry flowers.

Hold off on spring bloomers like lilacs, azaleas, and forsythia until just after they flower. Pruning too early removes next year’s flower buds.

Always use clean, sterilized pruners and make cuts above outward facing buds or side shoots. Removing dead, damaged, or crossing branches also helps. For overgrown shrubs, cut back up to one-third of total height.

Bottom line: Proper pruning now means gorgeous, lush growth all season long!

2. Prep Soil for Planting

While soil is still cold and wet, prep your planting beds and gardens. Pull any weeds that may have sprouted, rake up leftover leaves/debris, and work in compost or fertilizer. This gets the soil ready for sowing seeds or installing seedlings later on.

For veggie gardens, test the soil pH and amend if needed. Most vegetables thrive in the 6.0-6.8 range. Add lime if too acidic or sulfur if too alkaline. Rake beds smooth and create sowing rows or grids. Cover with plastic or fabric row covers to warm the soil faster.

Your hard work now pays off with healthier, more productive plants once it’s time to start planting!

3. Take Care of Weeds Early

As soon as soil thaws and you spot new weeds popping up, take action asap! Getting a jump on weeds now makes things much easier than trying to eliminate established ones mid-season.

Pull small weeds by hand or use an organic herbicide for spot treatment. Aggressive spreaders like dandelions, thistle, and crabgrass are easiest to manage when their roots are young and shallow.

For lawns, apply pre-emergent herbicide about 4-6 weeks before your last expected frost once soil hits 55°F for 5+ days. This prevents many weeds from sprouting but won’t hurt existing grass. Just don’t use if overseeding bare spots.

Staying on top of weeds now means you can enjoy a lush, healthy lawn and landscape all spring and summer long!

4. Fill in Bare Patches

Did your lawn take a beating over the long winter? Heavy traffic, pet urine spots, or damage from plows can leave unsightly bare patches. As soon as you can work the ground in early spring, scattered grass seeds over any thin or bare areas.

Use a steel rake to loosen the top 1/2 inch of soil first. Work in a thin layer of compost to provide nutrients for seed growth. Look for a sun and shade grass seed mix unless the area is heavily shaded. Lightly rake seeds into the soil, keeping good contact between seeds and soil.

Water gently to moisten seeds and keep them from drying out. Consider covering seeds with a light layer of straw or grass clippings to protect them. Avoid heavy mulching materials that prevent sunlight from reaching young grass shoots.

The catch is that pre-emergent herbicides also prevent grass seeds from sprouting. So try to seed bare patches as early as possible, before applying crabgrass preventer. For large dead zones or completely bare areas, sod may work better than seeding.

5. Hold Off on Fertilizer

It might seem tempting to give your lawn a nutrient boost first thing in the spring. But heavy nitrogen fertilization too early causes a flush of quick top growth at the expense of deeper roots. This weak root system leaves grass more prone to heat stress, drought damage, and diseases as summer approaches.

For the healthiest lawn possible, fertilize in the fall when grass plants are naturally developing deeper root systems. Fall fertilization also powers the plant through winter and fuels rapid green-up in spring without that surge of weak top growth.

If you simply must fertilize in spring, look for a low nitrogen, high phosphorus formula. Phosphorus strengthens roots and aids in seed germination. Apply in very early spring before grass resumes active growth.

6. Take Care of Thatch Buildup

Thatch is a tightly packed layer of dead and living grass stems and roots that accumulates between the green foliage and soil surface. A thin layer of thatch is normal, but too much prevents water, air, and nutrients from reaching grass roots.

Signs of excessive thatch include thinning turf, moss growth, and persistent wet spots. Use a screwdriver or soil probe to check thatch depth – optimal is 1/2 inch or less. If much thicker, spring is an ideal time to dethatch before grass resumes rapid growth.

For small areas, vigorously rake with a thatching rake or mechanized dethatching rake. On larger lawns, rent a power dethatcher. Just be sure the lawn is completely dry first – dethatching on soggy ground damages turf. Remove debris and aerate compacted areas afterward.

7. Aerate Compacted Soil

After months of foot traffic, winter freeze and thaw cycles, and snow cover, your lawn’s soil is likely rock hard. Compacted soil prevents proper air and water circulation to grass roots. The result is weakened turf and more weeds, diseases, and bare patches.

Spring aeration pokes holes through compacted layers using hollow tines. This allows oxygen, water, and nutrients to reach roots. It also gives grass a stronger foothold and helps break down thatch.

For best results, rent a core aerator and go over the lawn in crisscrossing directions. Time aeration when soil is moist but firming up. Avoid aerating on soggy ground or when temperatures exceed 85°F. Let soil dry several days after aeration before mowing. Fertilize afterwards to fill holes and spur root growth.

8. Edge Along Beds and Walkways

Crisp, clean bed edges make landscapes look neat and intentional. Over the winter, grass inevitably creeps into flower beds, pathway cracks, and other areas.

Redefine those boundaries in early spring before weeds take over. Use an edger to slice a distinct line between lawn and garden beds. For straight pathways, a motorized edger makes quick work. Or sweep a half-moon edger along curving bed edges.

Be sure to dig out grass clumps and roots from newly edged areas. Adding fresh mulch over beds after edging gives a polished, finished look. Maintain edges every few weeks through spring and summer to keep things tidy.

9. Divide Overgrown Perennials

Early spring before most perennials leaf out is the best time to divide overgrown clumps. Plants like bee balm, asters, sedums, and daylilies rapidly expand over time. Dividing congested clumps every 3-5 years rejuvenates growth.

Start by digging up the entire plant and root mass with a garden fork. Gently break or cut the root ball apart into smaller sections. Replant divisions back in the garden or share extras with gardening friends. Add compost to replenish soil nutrients.

Divided perennials bounce back quickly, producing more (and often larger) flowers on rejuvenated plants. Dividing also controls spread of more aggressive perennial species. Do this early before buds set for best results.

What’s On Your Spring Yard Care Agenda?

So, there you have it – the essential tasks for getting your yard ready for the spring season.

What projects are you planning to tackle this year? If you have any additional questions or need further guidance, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below.