Get your lawn and garden started this spring!

By Sadie Fowler

As the cold days of winter drift away, the spring season of rejuvenation is right around the corner, and March is the ideal time of year to begin preparing your yard for summer.

Various components go into creating beautiful, lush lawns and garden spaces, but it all starts with prep work, and knowledge.

“The biggest mistake homeowners make for their landscaping is trusting a ‘big box’ store associate for plant knowledge,” said Justin Mansfield of First Impressions in Bowling Green. “So many times, homeowners go in these stores and see ‘pretty’ plants but don’t understand how that plant grows. More times than not, this plant grows too fast for the homeowner’s needs and/or wants, or the plant doesn’t bloom as well due to sunlight conditions or soil.

“Trust a local nursery or landscaper with experience to provide you with this information, that way your investment in your landscaping will be one you love.”

Lawn maintenance begins with one word — pre-emergent! These will stop weeks before they begin to seed and grow in the yard.

“Pre-emergent for landscape and garden beds is excellent as well because it also prevents weeds from growing in the beds before they begin,” Mansfield said. “This will save time and effort for the homeowner as the season begins and throughout the summer to control weeds in their lawns and gardens.”

Also, ensuring lawns have all of the nutrients they need to thrive. Fertilizer is essential when feeding lawns, but fertilizing a lawn involves more than spreading fertilizer around the yard and hoping for the best. It’s a process that should be done carefully and timed correctly for optimal results.

A simple, yet highly effective tip for a new homeowner is to hire a quality lawn fertilization company as soon as possible. It’s a small cost that will provide huge results.

“The new homeowner will see drastic results in the quality of their yard and it will give them the beautiful and healthy green lawn they see in the magazine within months,” Mansfield said.

No two lawns are alike and each lawn has different needs. The type of grass and whether a lawn is mostly in the sun or shade may dictate fertilizer requirements.

While many lawns are comprised of several different grasses, a general rule of thumb is that the lawn will need to be fertilized in the spring at the very least. After that, fertilization schedules should be customized according to grass type, climate and other factors.

Spring is a prime time to fertilize because the lawn is reviving after a long season of cold weather and dormancy. Come spring, lawns need to be fed to turn green and grow. Soil supplies some of the nutrients grass needs, but many soils lack elements that lawns need to survive the growing season.

A healthy and actively growing lawn uses a great deal of energy, and fertilizer will provide the boost it requires.  It helps promote new root and leaf growth, aid in recovery from damage, reduce weeds, and replace nutrients lost to water runoff.

Feed It

Build a strong lawn by feeding it effectively. Dense, healthy lawns can strangle weeds and lead to beautiful landscapes. Follow these steps to feed the lawn and help it thrive:

• Identify the type of grass in your lawn and consult with a garden center to find the right type of fertilizer for your grass.

• Test the soil to check for pH. You want the soil to be as close to neutral as possible so it can readily process the nutrients in the fertilizer.

• Use caution and set the spreader to distribute less product if you are unsure how much to apply. Excessive fertilizer can damage a lawn.

• Water the lawn well after application, and always follow the fertilizer manufacturer’s instructions.

• Keep people and pets off of the lawn for a day or two after application.

Plant and grow a tree this spring!

More sunlight and warm temperatures frequently inspire homeowners to spend more time in the great outdoors during spring and summer.

Outdoor projects often top homeowners’ to-do lists in spring and summer, with gardens and landscapes taking center stage. Planting more trees around the yard is one popular project that can improve property value and benefit the environment.

Why plant trees? There are plenty of reasons to plant trees. Trees provide a natural form of shade, reducing air temperature by blocking the sun’s rays. This can reduce reliance on air conditioning systems and make it more comfortable to spend time outdoors during the summer.

Tree absorb and block noise and reduce glare. They also can trap dust, pollen and smoke. Trees also absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses from the air.

One large tree can supply a day’s worth of oxygen for as many as four people, while also storing 13 pounds of carbon per year.

Getting started

Visit a garden center or nursery and select a tree that will be hardy in your planting zone. Choosing native trees can increases the likelihood that the new tree will adapt to its surroundings.

Also, inspect trees to determine if they’re healthy before taking them home. Look for evidence of root girdling, which occurs when the roots circle around the perimeter of the container and surround the trunk. Trees should not have any dead or dormant branches.

Choose a location for the tree where it can thrive. This means selecting a spot that can make it easier for the tree to grow tall and wide. Avoid planting near the house, where roots can crack concrete or asphalt, and always plant away from underground pipes.

Planting the tree

Now it is time to amend the soil. It’s not enough to enrich only the soil in the hole where the tree will be placed. Move out into a circular area beyond where the roots will start so that roots can expand and properly anchor the tree.

The next method of success is to ensure that the tree has a large enough hole to contain the existing root ball and allow for roots to grow and expand.

Prepare a hole that is two to three times as wide as the root ball of the tree. Treat the root ball gently. If the roots are wrapped in burlap, remove the burlap or push it to the bottom of the hole.

Backfill the hole with soil and check that the tree is straight. Stake the tree to help it stay upright and straight until the roots anchor it more effectively. A layer of mulch around the base of the tree can prevent weeds and reduce water loss.

Water daily for several weeks until the roots have fanned out.

It’s best to leave trees be for the first growing season, only removing broken or diseased limbs. Resist pruning and shaping until the tree has survived its first growing season.