The first thing to do is to take a walk round the lawn and survey the effects the winter had on a property. When the owner of a dog, clean up their winter “activity”. There is no quick cure for dog damage except lots of water to wash the salts from the urine into the soil. In most cases, the grass will recover. If the damage is severe, re-sodding or new lawn seeding of the areas may be necessary.
Check the grass for matted patches that could signal the development of Snow Mold. This lawn disease glues the grass blades together, which may inhibit the new grass from growing through the mat. A light raking to break up the matted grass will remedy this situation. If the grass was left too long last fall, an early mowing at 1 1/2 to 2” is advisable. This will remove much of the dead grass from last year’s growth and allow the new growth to come through easier. A light raking of the entire lawn is also beneficial. This is especially true if there are leaves still scattered across the lawn. Be careful if the ground is wet while raking. Vigorous raking can uproot the grass plants.
Check any woody landscape plants for injury — particularly the evergreens. Do not be too alarmed if there is not any new growth. Wait until the buds have opened before removing any dead branches, unless they are broken. Take the same “wait and see” approach with perennial plants. Remove any mulch that was placed there to protect them. Some plants take a longer time to come out of winter dormancy than others do. If the scale insects or tent caterpillars bothered your landscape plants last year, then consider spraying the plants with dormant oil before the buds open. This material will smother the egg cases or over-wintering adults.
Shortened List for Spring Clean-Up
Raking of all leaves, sticks, branches and other debris from the lawn.
Remove debris from all beds and behind shrubs.
Turn all beds when soil permits. Amending the beds with peat moss, compost, manure, or fertilizers is a plus at this time of year.
Re-edge all existing beds and driveway for that sharp edge.
Fertilizing, uncover roses and removing burlap is also done early in spring.
Repair lawn damage with seed and top soil.
Fall – Tips for Fall Clean-Up
After summer winds down, the tendency is to put lawn care on the back burner until spring blooms. By taking time to prepare a landscape in fall, the lawn will reap the rewards for the following spring bloom. Give that lawn a healthy start in spring by managing these fall tasks.
Feed the lawn grass. Fall fertilization refuels and replenishing the lawn after a long, hot summer. Fall fertilization will help maintain the lawn’s root health and replenish nutrients that were expended in summer months. Fall feedings should be timed when plants are still absorbing nutrients. Don’t wait too long. Depending on the region, fall feeding can take place beginning on Labor Day or into early October.
Remember to water because thriving plants are still thirsty. Water early in the day to avoid evaporation and disease development. Water deep when moisture soaks into the soil of container plants and beds, apply another dose.
Air out the soil. Thatch build-up and foot traffic will compact soil, which cuts off oxygen and nutrient supply to the roots. Aeration loosens soil and literally airs out the earth. Balding turf, matted-down grass, sparse new growth, pools of water and tough ground are signs of a need for an aeration project.
Level and reseed. Start spring on level ground by filling ruts and low spots where water collects now. Early fall is the best time to reseed a lawn so turf roots establish before winter. Loosen soil with a dethatching rake, add a soil amendment and evenly apply seed.
Divide plants. If flowers and plants are overcrowded, fall is an ideal time to divide the root ball and replant. Cutting back the plants prior to transplanting can help reduce shock.
Plant fall bulbs. Plant in fall to enjoy spring’s first blooms. The best time to plant is after the first frost so the bulbs will stay cool all winter. Dig holes for bulbs and fertilize before replacing soil.
Pick up leaves. Fall cleanup will save time for gardening come spring, and clearing your lawn of leaves and sticks will prevent the heavy, wet foliage from suffocating the turf. Dark, moist environments are breeding grounds for disease.
Mow low. Make the last mowing of the season a short cut and pack all lawn equipment until spring comes around again.
Fall is the time to think festive! Draw attention to a fall landscape with universal landscape lighting setups.
Clean up. Wash down the summer patio furniture and store it for the season.