Spring Preparation of Lawns, Shrubs and Trees

As warmer weather approaches, it is time to start thinking about preparing your yard and gardens for spring.  The following simple guidelines will help you to have a more beautiful and healthy outdoor space to enjoy.  The effort will be well worth it!


grassThe first step is removing all the debris that has collected during the winter.  Rake out the beds and lawn area.  This helps not only with appearance, but will aid with airflow.  When it is time to mow, you will not have to deal with any leaves and sticks.  The soil surface loosened by hard raking will be ready to accept seed when it is time.  Once the lawn is clean, you will be able to see what areas are bare and will need a little extra seed. Simply sprinkle some seed on the area and cover with peat moss, or, as I prefer, Penn Mulch.  Be sure to keep the areas moist.

grass-seedThe next step is top dressing the seeded areas. This is simply spreading a thin layer of compost over the lawn with the back of a rake.  This will help condition the lawn throughout the year and help it to resist weeds, thatch, and disease.  In turn, less water, fertilizer, and weed killer will be necessary.

If the lawn has been neglected or the soil is heavily compacted, you might want to consider aerating.  This process loosens soil and removes plugs of soil, which will then allow water, nutrients, and oxygen to get down to the grass plant’s root structure. Aeration can be done with a manual tool or with a power aerator that can be rented. This will help the roots prepare for warmer spring weather.

Some sources say that rather than fertilizing in the early spring, it is better to wait until the late spring, (late May/early June) just before the heat of summer begins. This is preparing the grass for summer when it slows down carbohydrate production and begins utilizing the reserves. A substantial feeding of ¾ to 1.0 lb of slow release nitrogen will allow the plant to re-build its energy (carbohydrate) reserves, and ward off the stresses of summer like drought, heat, traffic, disease and insects. An IBDU or polymer coated slow release fertilizer can feed the grass for up to 12 weeks.

grass-diagramPre-emergent herbicides (which are applied in the early spring) usually contain fertilizer. However, it is only a small amount, and not considered a full “feeding”. In a pre-emergent herbicide, fertilizer is added to maintain or slightly boost the growth in the grass while the herbicide restricts seedling development. Some pre-emergent herbicides have an adverse affect on the grass and the inclusion of fertilizer helps the grass stay strong while the herbicide works.

It’s best to coincide any fertilizer application with a rainfall of at least 1/4″ to activate the product. A lawn fertilized with a slow release fertilizer will not need to be fertilized for up to 12 weeks.

Shrubs and Trees:

shrubsThe winter and early spring is a great time of year to get some pruning done. Evergreens and shrubs that stay green year round can use a moderate cutting back; up to one third can be removed without damaging the plant. This encourages stronger root growth that will make a plant that can stand up better to harsher weather conditions.  Too much top growth takes much needed nutrients away from the root system.  Trees can be pruned by cutting off any branches that are touching or crossing. Water Shoots, and Suckers should also be removed. Be sure to use very sharp pruners and to clean them with alcohol between pruning each plant. This will prevent the spread of any disease or pathogen. Tree pruning creates a much neater and healthier landscape.

Organic fertilizers and slow-release fertilizers are recommended for all shrub beds, as they promote good microbial activity, which leads to best soil health. Be careful to select hardwood mulch, or perhaps root mulch for their beneficial organic breakdown characteristics.

IMG_3228Everett Fink is a Certified Rutgers Master Gardener, Certified Pesticide applicator, and N.J. State licensed Home Improvement Contractor. Everett was designated Top Tier Designer at Sponzilli Landscape, and currently Owns Property Details LLC, in New Jersey. Property Details has a Container Gardening Division designing and maintaining Pools, Patios, and Porches with beautiful flowers, and foliage.


SociBook del.icio.us Digg Facebook Google Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
This entry was posted in Enjoy New Jersey News, Garden State Green. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.