Getting Your Lawn and Landscape Ready for Spring

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Spring fever hits everyone as we finally begin to see some relief from a long, bitterly cold, snow-filled winter.
  
However, despite all the delightful spring days, March can sometimes decide it hasn’t had enough of winter and surprises us with a cold spell just when we think it is safe to plant vegetables for our main-season gardens.
 
Go ahead and plant those tomatoes outside, but keep a protective covering nearby in case of a cold spell. You can use fabric row cover or a cloche. A cloche is a bell-shaped glass covering that you place over your plants to hold in the warmth of the sun and protect against frosts.
 
For a homemade cloche you can use large, heavy glass vases with openings large enough to fit over the plant, or better still, the top of a clear glass cake cover.
 
Leave the pedestal base inside and use the top. These cake covers are always made of heavy glass. They are good for this because the weight of the glass will hold in more heat and because they will not blow over and expose your tender seedlings to the cold.
 
In March, you can plant leafy green vegetables, onions, garlic, most herbs and most flowers. Just be ready to cover or even replant if there is a late freeze. Even in beautiful April, your Easter bonnet can be ripped from your head by an icy gale-force wind from the north. If you are lucky, however, your bonnet will stay on and your plants will grow lush and healthy in the spring weather.
 
There are fewer pests in early spring. Do watch for young insects emerging about the same time you do. For instance, spider mites like to overwinter on spinach. Check the leaves to make sure they have not stealthily snuck up on you.
 
Start the cleanup work in your lawn and garden beds this month. Trim back winter-killed flowers and shrubs, but don’t prune back anything that blooms in the spring, or you will not have a pretty display this year. Wait until after the blooming stops to trim these flowering plants.
 
One of the best time-saving cleanup ideas is to use a mulching lawn mower to go over your grass beginning in late March and continuing into April. This will shred dead leaves and twigs that often cover your lawn at this time.
 
Bag them, but don’t throw the leaves away. Empty them out in your flower and vegetable beds. Because of the usual high winds of March, you will need to lay a few branches or commercial mulch over the leaves. Otherwise they will fly away in the wind.
 
 
After dumping each load of leaves, return the bag to the lawn mower and let it fill with leaves again. These leaves are nutritious and will help improve your garden soil. They are a wonderful resource available to you at no charge from your trees.
 
You can plant transplants of cool-season flowers this month. These include pansies, dianthus, snapdragons, alyssum, Shasta and African daisies. Wait another month before planting warm-season flowers like zinnias, vincas and sunflowers.
 
By mid-month, plant your warm-season vegetables, including squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, peppers, green beans and eggplants. The sooner you plant these, the sooner you will have a crop, hopefully before insects, diseases, heat stress and drought create problems.
 
 
It is still too early to fertilize your lawn, but by mid-month you can start fertilizing your vegetables and flowers, including perennial flowers such as sage, echinacea, ornamental grasses and flowering shrubs. If there are late freezes, wait until spring-like weather returns to fertilize.
 
Be watchful and take care of all the chores that you can while it is still cool. Do not let outdoor tasks such as weeding and trimming start to pile up on you. Spring is a delightful time to be outside, so make any changes to the hardscape now before it gets hot.
 
Repair or replace broken benches, fences and other lawn ornaments now. Get your lawn mower serviced before the crowds line up to have their blades sharpened and their spark plugs replaced. Dig new flower or vegetable beds.
 
 
Try something new this spring, such as a square-foot garden, a three-bin compost pile or a keyhole garden. There are many interesting types of gardens that you can build besides the traditional row gardens. Do an Internet search and learn about these online. You may find something you really like that will make gardening easier and more successful for you this year.
 
At Alpine, we have a wide array of tools to help you improve the health, look and vitalitiy of your lawn and landscapes.
Feel free to contact us if you need some extra help restoring your garden, repairing your shrubs or reinvigorating your lawn.
We look forward to finding you the right tool for your needs, application and budget.
 

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