Why a Spring Clean Up is Essential For A Healthy Yard

Patio furniture on a concrete patio with spring flowers in bloom

Between gusty winds and significant amounts of wet snow, winter in Michigan can be hard on your property. The weather may bring down branches, limbs, and even whole trees. The heavy snow and pounding rain can compact the soil, making it difficult for chemical treatments and fertilizers to reach the plants’ roots. The result is a yard that not only looks unkempt but is unhealthy. Spring clean-ups are essential not only to enhance the beauty of your lawn but the health of your plants as well. Here are some of the most essential tasks that we recommend you have done.

1. Dethatching the Lawn

Thatch is a layer of debris such as leaves and dead grass that can form a thick layer over your lawn. There are several reasons why this material is unhealthy for your lawn:

  • Can harbor pathogens that can cause turf diseases
  • Prevents the soil from breathing
  • Forms a barrier that makes it more difficult for fertilizer and chemical treatments to reach the soil

All of these things may result in a lawn that is less green, thick, and lush than in previous years. We have also seen bare spots develop.

If the soil itself has become severely compacted, preventing plant roots from breathing, you may need to take the next step and aerate your lawn. However, while dethatching should be performed annually, aeration only needs to take place every few years.

2. Removing Winter Debris

Ice and heavy snow can damage trees, causing them to fall or to lose limbs and branches. Any fallen trees or limbs should be removed from the property, followed by grinding of remaining tree stumps.

As the snow melts, more accumulated debris becomes visible, such as weeds, dead leaves, and trash that blows into the yard with heavy winds. This debris should all be cleared away as soon as the snow melts and weather conditions allow it to improve the property’s overall cleanliness.

3. Fertilizing the Lawn and Flower Beds

Plants such as flowers and grass need nutrients that they obtain from the soil. However, over time, the soil can become depleted of those nutrients. Fertilizing helps to return them to the soil. Plants may still grow, or continue growing, even without fertilizer, but they may not be as healthy and may fail to reach their full potential.

Depending on the needs of your property, you can choose between liquid and dry fertilizer in slow-release or quick-release formulations. Whichever type of fertilizer you choose, be sure to water the area immediately after application.

4. Installing New Mulch

Mulch serves many different purposes in your yard. It helps to maintain a consistent soil temperature, holds water in the ground, and prevents the growth of weeds. Mulch often consists of chips of wood or bark, but other options include shredded leaves, grass clippings, or sphagnum peat moss.

Whichever type of mulch you choose, it is important that you water the soil before installing it. You should also wait to install mulch until after fertilizing lawns and flowerbeds. Otherwise, it may act as a barrier that prevents the nutrients in the fertilizer from reaching the soil.

5. Pruning Trees and Shrubs

In the early spring, when trees and shrubs are still dormant, it can be a good time to prune them in the interest of reducing their size. Pruning helps to keep trees healthy by controlling overgrowth. However, you should not prune any spring-flowering plants until after they have bloomed. Otherwise, you will cut off the new buds, and they won’t bloom at all.

There are other spring clean-up tasks that, while not absolutely essential, contribute to the overall aesthetic of your yard. For example, you can make your yard look more manicured all season long by having driveways, flower beds, and walkways edged in the spring.

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