How to get a lush, green landscape this spring
It’s spring, and homeowners are thinking about landscaping projects that will add to their homes’ curb appeal. Investing in landscaping isn’t just about making your property look good, it’s also about enhancing the value of your home. A well-landscaped home can fetch a five- to 20-percent premium over a similar property that hasn’t experienced the same exterior TLC.
Here are some simple things you can do now that will help optimize your outdoor space all summer:
Test the soil
Many lawn and garden centers will recommend a soil test in the spring to know if your property has the nutrients necessary to grow a carpet of thick, green grass and the various flora you have in mind for your islands and plant beds. Test kits are inexpensive, widely available and easy to use.
Once you know the results, staff at lawn and garden centers or a government extension service can recommend the proper fertilizers and offer advice of the types of plants that will flourish in your property’s unique environment. They can also help with information on aeration, over-seeding your grass and how to grow flowers, shrubs or trees from seeds, seedlings or bulbs.
Time to cut back
Spring is also a great time to prune dead branches and shoots. It is a healthy practice in maintaining plants, especially during the spring and early summer, and cutting back will quickly stimulate new growth. Make sure your pruning shears are sharp so that the cuts are clean and neat.
Speaking of sharpening…
If your lawnmower has been stored for the winter and you’re about to crank it up for the first time, it’s a good idea to have a professional tune it up, replacing the fluids and filters. More importantly, at least for your grass, sharpen the blade or replace it. Sharp blades make for clean cuts and healthier grass. Dull blades can damage the grass and cause brown spots.
How often you should cut your grass and at what height varies by the type of grass, but for most varieties, a general rule is never cut away more than one-third of the grass blade in any single mowing.
How often to water?
The temptation to water every day – particularly when the mercury rises – is great when you’ve invested money and sweat-equity in beautifying your landscape. However, experts have a simple rhyme to remind us how much to water: Deeply weekly, rather than lightly nightly.
Frequent watering encourages root growth near the surface, which makes plants much more susceptible to the effects of heat and drought. Heavier, less-frequent watering encourages deeper root growth and hardier grass, shrubbery, flowers and trees.
When do I fertilize?
Follow the “holiday plan” for a fertilizing schedule that works well with most grass and plant varieties. Simply spread fertilizer near or on Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day and the results will be pleasing.
What about weeds?
Pulling weeds is a chore, but is the most effective way of eliminating the interlopers from your landscape. Spraying with a weed control chemical is much easier but not foolproof and may, in some cases, damage the grasses or plants in which you’re hoping to promote growth. For best results with lawn and garden chemicals, wait until weeds are in full bloom and then let ‘em have it.
Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or pay someone else to make your landscaping the envy of your neighborhood, it is a great investment in your home. Is it any wonder that LightStream’s annual home improvement survey revealed that outdoor projects are tops on the list of enhancements so many homeowners in America are planning this year?