Your Springtime Yard Clean Up Guide
After a long and cold winter in the Northeast, your lawn might need a little bit of help getting back into tip-top shape.
You may need to prepare your flower beds, feed your lawn, tend to your mulch beds, and make sure your mower is ready for a low grow season.
With this easy guide, you should be able to do any of the spring cleanup tasks that need to get done so your lawn gets back to beautiful as soon as possible.
Springtime Debris Removal
After a long winter, you may have a wide variety of debris left in your lawn. Litter and dog feces, dead grass, fallen leaves, old pinecones, and dead plants in your flower beds will probably be making an appearance at this time.
Your first task in cleaning up your yard for the growing season is getting rid of any and all debris in your yard.
But, when it comes to the different types of debris you can find, you might need to handle them a little bit differently.
When cleaning up any litter you find in your lawn, make sure to check for glass and other sharp materials before touching.
We recommend wearing heavy work gloves when cleaning up litter. You’re better safe than sorry and no one wants to get cut up while cleaning up.
Before raking your lawn, make sure to remove any dog feces from the area. You don’t want to clog up the prongs of your rake.
Remember not to use any of these feces in compost. They can contain harmful pathogens that won’t do you or your plants any good.
You’ll want to remove any rocks or stones larger than ½ an inch in size.
You can usually do this by hand to avoid damaging your rake.
DEAD LEAVES AND OTHER DECAYED PLANT MATERIAL:
After you remove any litter and animal waste from your lawn, you can finally pull out the rake.
Make sure to rake up any leftover leaves from fall that didn’t absorb into the soil.
Additionally, grab and remove pinecones. They don’t break up easily and can be thrown out.
Clean Up Dead Branches from Summer-Blooming Shrubs and Trees
Now that it’s easier to be on your lawn, start checking your summer-blooming trees and shrubs for dead branches.
Spring-bloomers need to be pruned after their springtime flowering.
You'll want to prune the dead parts of the branch back to the live stems. We recommend using a handsaw for anything larger than ½ inch in diameter.
Cold winter snows and wind can damage large amounts of branches and you won’t want these branches to remain throughout the growing season if you can avoid it.
Prepare Your Flower Beds
One of the best parts of springtime gardening is how beautiful springtime flowers look when fully bloomed.
However, in order to get the best results from your flower beds, you may need to prep them for the grow season. Long winters can remove nutrients and cause plant death in your flower beds.
Remove any weeds or dead growth as you find them. Clean up any mulch that has spilled onto the nearby grass and add new mulch as needed.
You may also want to add fertilizer or compost to your flower beds at this time.
Create New Flower Beds as Needed
If you’re considering creating new flower beds for this grow season, springtime is a great time to start.
You may want to use a tiller to break new ground or build raised beds in the area (perhaps using lumber from our lumber yard!).
We recommend laying a landscaping fabric over the ground as soon as you’ve established a new planting bed and then covering that with mulch. That will help you control weeds throughout the season.
If you prefer not use landscaping fabric, consider using mulch or straw to protect your flowers from potential weed growth.
After you’ve established flower beds, it may be time to fertilize them and your lawn. Fertilizer is the key to healthy plant growth.
Before choosing a fertilizer, however, do a soil test to see what the pH of your soil is and what nutrients your soil needs.
Your soil test will usually recommend a specific type of starter fertilizer and any materials you’d need for a pH adjustment.
We recommend always using a slow-release fertilizer in the springtime and the fall - they release Nitrogen into the soil in a more controlled way.
With whatever fertilizing agent you choose, make sure to carefully follow package instructions and, then, “water-in” the fertilizer after application.
Plant Your Flowers
Now that your plant beds are ready to promote healthy growth, you can start planting your flowers.
We recommend starting this process in early spring if you’re planting hardy perennials or any trees/shrubs.
If you’re growing annuals or weaker perennials, wait until the last frost date has passed.
Overseed Your Lawn - Where Needed
After a long winter, there’s a chance that part of your lawns are dead or irreparably damaged.
If it’s difficult to tell what conditions your lawn is in, contact us directly and we can come out and take a look, and even give you an estimate on us coming in to do the repairs.
Start the process of overseeding by testing your soil’s pH levels and removing any turf that’s been damaged by salt, plows, shoveling, or disease.
You can work in any fertilizer, pH amendments, or compost to the soil once the damaged turf has been removed. This will help keep the new seed moist - which can, in turn, make your lawn come in faster.
Remember that your seed will need to be kept moist at all times. It will not root if it isn’t moist.
Begin seeding after the last frost date and once plants start to bloom in your area. Check out our seeding guide for aftercare recommendations and thorough instructions on the seeding process.
Clean Up Your Walkways or Patios
At this point, you can start cleaning up your walkways and patios. Any hardscape area will need some polishing up to get back to beautiful.
If your walkways or patios are made of gravel, you’ll want to rake any escaped gravel back into their locations and add more gravel to areas that have divots.
When it comes to pavers, they may have moved throughout the winter. If they have, you will have to completely remove them and replenish any base material (i.e. gravel) before putting them back into place.
We recommend renting a pressure washer during the springtime if you have pavers. Use a low-pressure tip to remove any leftover algae, leaf stains, or dirt.
Check Your Fences
Sometimes your fences can be damaged by winter snow and winds. Check your fences for damage or chipped paint.
At this point, you may need to remove damaged sections of the fence. While we don’t sell pickets, we do sell boards that work great for fences and, if you have a board fence made out of pine or hemlock, call us (518)583-1168 with your measurements to put an order in for replacement boards.
If you have spaces that had rotted within otherwise healthy boards, you can patch those sections with wood epoxy instead of completely replacing the fence board.
After you remove any badly damaged areas, you can begin cleaning the rest of your fence off. Use two gallons of water mixed with 2 quarts of bleach and 1 cup of liquid soap. After scrubbing, you can let your fence air dry.
At this point, if you have areas with chipped paint, completely remove old paint, re sand the wood, and then apply new coats of paint or stain. You’ll want to wait until the temperature reaches 50°F before painting or staining.
Maintain Your Mower
When you live in areas known for cold winters, it’s highly unlikely that you use your mower throughout the winter months. Once it’s springtime, you may need to perform some mower maintenance in order to get the lawn you want for the year.
Annual maintenance is super important and can either be performed in the spring or the fall.
However, the most important part of lawn mower maintenance is removing your spark plug before doing any work. Install a new one once other maintenance tasks have been completed.
You’ll also want to clean any foam air filters or replace paper air filters, change the oil, sharper the blade, and lubricate any moving parts so that your lawn mower is in tip-top-shape.
After you’ve checked all the parts, clean up the mower with water and a rag, and then wax the deck to keep grass, dirt, or other debris from sticking to it.
Proper lawn mower maintenance will give you better lawn care results and will also make your lawn mower last longer.
Spring Irrigation System Tune-Up
We always recommend to customers with irrigation systems that they need to tune up or have us tune up their irrigation system come springtime.
The first step to this is restarting your irrigation system, but that can’t be done while the ground is still frozen. If it’s frozen on the day you want to restart it, try waiting another week and restarting then.
You’ll need to check that no debris is blocking the flow of water, but that can be prevented by removing debris from your lawn earlier on as recommended.
At this time, you’ll also want to closely inspect your irrigation heads. Make sure they aren’t buried or filled with dirt/decay.
Sometimes your irrigation heads will be broken at this time. You’ll want to replace broken, cracked, or even chipped irrigation heads, nozzles, valves, or pipes. It is extremely important to replace any broken part of your irrigation system because you want your lawn to be evenly watered and you don’t want a broken part to create a higher water bill.
Additionally, when you first start your irrigation system for the year, check the pressure. A system with too much water pressure can also result in broken parts. A water pressure gauge can measure water pressure and can be found at most hardware stores.
We personally recommend using a professional service for tuning up your spring irrigation system. Any damage that isn’t tackled can end up being more costly than having us come in for a spring irrigation system start-up.
Quick Lawn Cleanup Checklist
It can feel like there’s a lot of “stuff” you need to do to get your lawn looking its best for the rest of the year, and there is, but by referencing this guide and using our quick lawn cleanup checklist, you’ll get everything done in no-time.
- Remove any debris in your yard (dead leaves, rocks, dog feces, litter, etc.)
- Clean up dead tree/shrub branches
- Prepare your flower beds
- Build new flower beds
- Fertilize your flower beds
- Fertilize your lawn
- Remove any dead turf
- Overseed in dead/damaged areas
- Plant your hardy perennials and any trees/shrubs in early spring
- In late spring, plant weaker perennials and annuals
- Add gravel where needed
- Rake gravel
- Clean up your walkways/patios
- Check your fences!
- Perform annual mower maintenance
- Clean your mower!
- Restart your irrigation system
- Check your irrigation heads for any damage and replace any broken parts
- Check your irrigation system water pressure
- Run an irrigation system check, check the timer, and check the system settings.
By taking care to check these parts of your lawn, and tune up your lawn care devices when needed, you should be in for a wonderful growing season!