Spring Gardening Planning Tips as Warmer Weather Approaches
If you’re living in an apartment or home in affordable cities in the Midwest like Columbus, Ohio and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, winter weather has been severely brutal for months. The season began unusually cold in early November but moderated into the second week of January as many then began to think that winter’s fury would not appear in earnest. Unfortunately, the weather pattern radically changed around January 15th, and temperatures plunged to record 25 below zero lows. This was accompanied by lots of snow and wind, and the Midwest is finally showing signs of graduating from one of its most temperature-extreme winters of the last 20 years. Now that you can maybe begin to see your garden beds, what can you do to be ready to plant in May?
Clean it Up
Even if your beds looked great after you had removed all of your initially frost-killed vegetation, a long winter tends to mess them up. You’ll find debris everywhere, especially leaves that fell late in the season, and twigs and small branches that were knocked from trees by snow, ice and wind. Take a fan rake and gently remove the most easily removed debris. If you do have early spring flowers like crocuses emerging, be careful not to disturb them.
Check any wooden fence areas for rotting and structural damage. Replacing a few slats in the early spring is much easier than doing it mid-summer when you may have vines and other vegetation entwined in your fencing. Ensure that all fence gate hardware is still functioning properly.
25 below is not a lawn-friendly temperature. That said, if you had an insulating snow cover, your dormant lawn will begin to turn green as the weather warms. While a light raking is good, avoid tearing up your lawn with a lawn mower blade dethatcher. While lawn thatch can be a problem, many have seriously injured their turf by overzealously trying to remove too much thatch too early.
Your lawn will benefit from a spring fertilization but be careful not to over do it. Repeated heavy doses of nitrogen will definitely give you a green lawn, but if you encourage extremely rapid spring growth, diseases like fusarium blight can quickly cause trouble if you have a wet spring.
When the temperature warms to where lawn seeds will germinate, by all means buy a couple of five-pound seed bags and overseed your turf. By using slightly different grasses, you can build a healthy lawn that will resist insects and diseases. Different grass strains like different temperature ranges, so again, a mixture will help you have a great lawn throughout the growing season.
Sprinklers and Hoses
Finally, check your sprinkler system for leaks, and if you don’t have one and you use hoses, that’s OK, but if you left your hose outside all winter it may have deteriorated. If the hose connectors are damaged, these can be replaced but you may just want to invest in a good new hose. Avoid the cheap plastic ½ inch hoses, because you will be forever undoing kinks.
Spring is obviously a great time for gardeners. If it’s taking a while to arrive in your area, at least you can start preparing for the planting season by taking care of the issues we have mentioned above.