It’s time for the spring grassroots of yard work

With spring comes yard work. It can become overwhelming unless work is planned, limited and prioritized.

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With spring comes yard work. It can become overwhelming unless work is planned, limited and prioritized.

Spring is a busy time in the yard. Make a list of what tasks need to be done in the next month. A separate list should be made that includes major projects.

Make a gardening calendar and block off time to complete activities. Know that all gardening activities might need to be moved to another time depending on the weather.

Early spring activities can be broken down into lawn, perennials, trees and shrubs, vegetable gardens and pots. Decide which of theses tasks are important. Remove or cross out the ones that are not.

Lawn chores include: raking or dethatching, aerating, fertilizing and occasionally topdressing. When time is short and money is available hire professionals that will get the lawn ready for the next season.

The first task in a perennial bed is to remove all the old tops if it wasn’t done in the fall. Watch the plants as they emerge this spring. If the centre of the plant has dies, dig it out and replant the healthy, living portions. Plants that have become too large need to be split. Excess plants can be planted elsewhere or given away.

Be careful when digging as some plants take longer to emerge in the spring than others. Give plants until mid June before deciding if they are dead. Some perennials will last for years while others are short lived.

Shrubs and trees are usually low maintenance but need to be pruned regularly to ensure they have an attractive shape and are healthy. Always remove any deadwood as it appears. Keep the area around the base of the plant free of weeds. Mulch works well but make sure that it is not touching the truck or branches. Mulch prevents weeds from growing. It does not eliminate weeds. Remove weeds from mulch as they appear before they become established.

Annuals and vegetable gardens take time. To achieve good results the soil in their bed must be soft and pliable. Usually this requires digging or cultivating the soil.

Once the bed is ready either seeds or bedding plants must be planted. Through out the summer these beds will need to be watered and weeded. Annuals will give the yard colour from the time they are planted until a killer frost. Vegetables always taste better then they are picked fresh from the garden.

Pots and hanging baskets make wonderful additions to they yard but one has to be committed to their maintenance for them to look good. Plants in containers are reliant on water and fertilizer from an artificial source — you. Rarely does the rain provide enough moisture to sustain a pot even in years where one feels that it rains every day. When pots are part of the landscape plan to water them every day.

Once the basic needs of the garden are met look at the wish list of major projects. If the money is there, hire out all the items on the list and have it all completed with in a season. When that is not a possibility choose one activity from the list that is timely and affordable. An example is putting in a play area when the children are little as opposed to adding a rose garden.

Doing one major project at a time minimizes the disruptions and feeling of unrest within the yard. Using a calendar to plan puts tasks into prospective. If it is too busy some activities can be eliminated. A yard, like all parts of the home should be a place to relax and escape from outside pressured.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at www.igardencanada.com or your_garden@hotmail.com

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