Investing time and energy in lawn and garden care now not only ensures a beautiful yard in the summer and fall but it also helps minimize the amount of work needed to keep your yard healthy and in good shape.
“Your lawn will be hungry after a harsh winter, so feeding it plus using a granular weed preventive Is required to keep it thriving,” Lauren Melka, garden center manager at Melka Landscaping & Garden Center in Mokena, says, noting that mid-March to early-April is typically the best time to start preparing your lawn for the warm weather.
“March and April are also a good time to start amending your soil if you didn't do so in the fall," continues Melka. “Freshening the soil brings a great source of nutrients to your plant material. A combination of compost or manure, sphagnum peat moss and garden soil or topsoil will be a great mix for both raised-bed or in-ground garden beds. If you're interested in starting any vegetables, herbs or annuals by seed indoors, now would be the time to do so as well.”
People are also reading…
“One of the first things to do in the spring is to get out there and rake, rake and rake,” says Mark Spence, owner of Lawn-Tech Ltd. in Tinley Park. “It’s important to rake up any matted leaves and any brown debris to get them off the grass. That’s one of the things that can be done right away to help make your lawn look great.”
Spence, who has been in the lawn business for 47 years, says he doesn’t recommend mowing lawns until late March.
“But if you have mulch beds, it’s good to rake them as well,” he says.
Raking also loosens clumps of matted grass, which can stifle new growth and prevent the soil from absorbing nutrients, sunshine and oxygen.
Melka suggests dead-heading plants that weren’t cut back in the fall and applying fertilizer to promote new growth.
“Now is a good time to start a fertilization program,” says Rob Billinger, garden center manager at Saunoris Brothers Garden Center in Frankfort. Billinger recommends using fertilizer that is a mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as well as a soil amendment mushroom compost. The compost, which consists of organic material, increases microbial activity, soil temperature and water capacity. It also improves the soil structure. That’s important because good soil structure is necessary for healthy plant growth as it lets air and water into the soil, improves drainage and prevents waterlogging and nutrient lock-up, which is what happens when plants cannot get the nourishment needed to flourish.
“Spring is also a great time to apply fresh grass seed in spots that need to be filled in or over-seeding your lawn that needs to be fuller,” Melka says, reminding not to use weed prevention at least three weeks before or after you apply grass seed as it will interfere with germination.
For those who look forward to fresh produce and arrays of pretty flowers, now may be a good time to start seedlings indoors.
“Vegetable and herb gardens are a great and rewarding thing to have,” says Melka, noting that gardeners can get a start on their veggies. “Make sure to use a starter seeding mix. Starter 3-4-inch vegetables usually become available at your local garden centers in early to mid-April. But always call to confirm their availability.”
Melka says that summer-fall flowering bulbs need to be planted in the spring.
“Dahlias will bloom in late summer and fall with an array of color combinations,” she says.
Plant flower seeds indoors in a good starter soil and place them in a sunny window to get a head start, says Billinger.
“Doing the right maintenance and care now ensures that your yard will look good this summer and fall,” says Spence.