Are we Minnesotans obsessed with talking about weather… or do we think we think we obsess about weather? Regardless of which it is, the reason is simple… because we never know what to expect! Thankfully, after a long, cold, snowy, Covid-y winter, Spring 2021 appears to be “looking good”.
The steady progress of snow melting and greening grass does wonders for our souls. Re-emerging is a tonic for the soul. Once the snow is gone (at least for the time being), all the dirt and sand, waylaid gloves, and miscellaneous items of clothing are scattered about — in the street, on sidewalks, as well as in your yard. Fortunately, getting the lawn and yard ready for a productive growing season is easy to do.
The bane of fall is raking, the bane of spring is, also, raking… the snow, that is. There should be a credo or tenet for lawn maintenance. Uff da! Though tedious, raking any remaining snow will help it melt faster; gathering up old, rotting leaves (which can negatively affect the grass trying to grow), and removing dead grass and thatch will help ensure healthy growing conditions. Leaves and organic material can be added to compost; check with your municipality to learn where to dispose of larger yard waste, like branches.
As you are raking survey your yard, looking especially for holes, dead spots, or areas of compaction — the path traveled daily by the mail carrier, for example. Depending on your lawncare goals, early spring is the perfect time for checking and adjusting soil pH, over-seeding and applying eco-friendly fertilizer. And, even though you won’t need it for a few more weeks, don’t forget to tune up the lawn mower!
Spring is also the time for pruning, dividing and cutting back. For trees and shrubs, the experts at This Old House recommend pruning back dead and damaged branches. Cut back to a live stem or an intersecting branch using tools suited for the job — a handsaw for larger branches, and hand pruners for hedges and shrubs. Summer-flowering bushes should be pruned well in advance of bud formation; when pruning spring-blooming shrubs, like lilacs, wait until after they’ve flowered.
The University of Minnesota Extension recommends this linked gardening calendar.
Regardless of your plans for lawn and garden in the upcoming seasons, the shift from winter to spring brings the welcome opportunity to be outside, working in the yard, and getting reacquainted with friends and neighbors. Enjoy the mild climate before the dog days of summer leave us wondering what’s so bad about winter, anyway?
John Hensrud, HomesMSP Team