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 the prep work.

“Spring is finally here and many homeowners are wondering how to get their property ready for the season so they can enjoy their outdoor living space as the weather continues to warm,” said Mark Lovinski of Secure Lawns, which serves Murfreesboro. “For me personally, this is the most important spring ever because I am hosting two separate high school graduation parties for my twins and believe me, the pressure is already on to have the perfect backyard.”
What’s the perfect backyard?

“That means green grass, no weeds, beautiful shrubs, and most importantly no fleas, ticks or mosquitos,” Lovinksi quickly points out. (His personal plan of attack can be seen in a separate part of this article.)

Lawn maintenance starts with 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.

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.

Want to go Green this spring?

Green is certainly a color that’s synonymous with spring — a season that provides a great opportunity for lawn and garden enthusiasts to embrace a variety of eco-friendly practices that can save them money and protect the planet.

Find a way to make spring even more green, while still bringing your garden back to life, by embracing several eco-friendly gardening practices in the months to come.
Here are a few tips to get you started:

Create a compost pile
Composting is an eco-friendly way to enrich lawns and gardens. Composting helps to conserve water because compost promotes moisture retention in soil, reducing homeowners’ need to water their lawns and gardens while also helping them to save money on their water bills.
Composting also helps homeowners avoid the need to use potentially harmful chemical fertilizers because compost is a natural, slow release fertilizer.

Replace gas-powered mowers
Replace gas-powered mowers with reel lawn mowers. Reel mowers may seem like relics from simpler times, but today’s reel mowers, while just as eco-friendly as their predecessors, are unlike those of yesteryear.

Gas-powered engines emit more than 10 times the hydrocarbons per amount of gas burned than auto engines. But reel mowers are fuel-free and less expensive than gas-powered mowers. Planet Natural also notes that reel mowers snip grass like scissors, leaving finer trimmings that can serve as nourishing, weed-deterring mulch for yards.

Water at the right times of day
Homeowners who water their lawns and gardens at the right time of day can help the planet and reduce their energy bills. As spring gradually gives way to summer, temperatures typically rise.

Watering during the coolest times of the day means less water will be lost to evaporation, ensuring water-needy soil will get all it needs to help lawns and gardens thrive. Early morning watering before the sun reaches its midday peak and/or evening watering as the sun is setting are typically great times to water lawns and gardens.

Use a rain barrel
Rain barrels provide another great way to conserve water while tending to lawns and gardens. Rain barrels collect and store rain water from roofs and downspouts, keeping water from washing into sewage systems where it can’t be put to good use.

Water collected in rain barrels can be used in various ways. Many homeowners can use water from rain barrels to water their lawns, gardens and houseplants, saving money on their water bills along the way.

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.

Find 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. Then, 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.