Sunday, March 27, 2011

Homeworks: Getting your gardening affairs in order

Scrub your containers and fill them up with pansies.

With one week into spring, now would be a good time to get your gardening affairs in order.

“Most important is the debris in the yard needs to be cleaned up,” said Jan Ornsten, whose family business, American Lawn Corp., has been servicing commercial and residential lawns since 1961.

If you’re a pet owner, that means a couple of hours of poop scooping.

“Once that’s done, I would proceed to pick up any big branches that may have fallen off the tree, so you’re not tripping over them, for safety’s sake,” Ornsten said.
Cleanup in the yard would entail raking the leaves off the lawn and out of the flowerbeds. After April 1, you should be able to start setting the yard waste bags at the road for pickup.

“This is also the time to trim broken branches or shrubs,” Ornsten said. “Get a pair of pruners and walk around the yard with a bucket, pruning any branches (down to the trunk) that might have been damaged by wind or snow. This will promote new growth.”
Now is a good time to get the lawnmower ready for the season and, provided it is dry enough, give the lawn its first cut.

“You want to get that brown layer of grass off the top,” Ornsten said. At this point, homeowners can apply a combo organic pre-emergent weed killer and fertilizer to prevent the spreading of crab grass. It’s too early to apply any deterrents for clover and creeping Charlie. That needs to be done in May.

Keep in mind while clearing the debris from the yard that over the winter plenty of junk found its way into the bird feeders and baths.

Clean them out thoroughly before filling them up with fresh seed and water. Ornsten recommended using a brush to get rid of the algae that collected in the birdbath.

Today is supposed to be cold, but any breaks in the clouds could be used for
removing Christmas lights and holiday décor. If it’s too chilly to be outdoors, turn on the radio in the garage and work on your spring lights, pots and other yard décor.  
If you have mulch, take a rake and give it a mix. You’ll be surprised at how fresh it will look afterward.

This would be the time to apply grass seed to the bare spots in the lawn. Yellow spots created by dogs should be raked thoroughly to remove the dead grass before applying any seed. Once that is done, Ornsten suggested adding a layer of sphagnum peat moss. This will deter birds from eating the seed and help to keep the wind from blowing it away.
Once all of the cleanup work is done, it is possible to do some planting.

“I went to the Eastern Market (recently) and bought a couple flats of purple, white and yellow pansies,” Ornsten said. “I put them in a pot with some pussy willows and
already 95 percent of the pansies are blooming.”

Send your comments or home and garden tips to Gina Joseph, The Macomb Daily, 100 Macomb Daily Drive, Mount Clemens, MI 48043, or email them to gina.joseph@macombdaily.com.

Today's muse

Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms -- Zen Master, Ikkyu Sojun

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