My calendar says late March but my thermometer says it’s still February. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for warm temperatures, long days and sunshine. With the nice weather comes our favorite time of the year… Landscaping Time!
Here’s a couple of quick tips on what you should be doing in your yard this week…
1. Power Equipment Tune Up.
The official start of my landscaping season begins with making sure that my power equipment is in proper working order. A little bit of maintenance now can lead to a stress free season of yard work! I start with my lawn mowers. I thoroughly drain all engine oil, replace my oil filters and fill with the manufacturers recommended oil. Next I remove and replace the spark plugs and thoroughly lubricate all moving parts including axles, cables, carburetor and controls. I prefer white lithium spray grease because it is drier than normal household lubricants and doesn’t seem to attract dirt and debris. My next job is to remove,inspect and clean the air filters. Providing clean air to the engine insures peak performance through the hot mowing season. Finally, I remove the blades, thoroughly clean the underside of the mowing deck, coat the deck with a non stick lubricant(cooking spray works best for me) and install a sharp blade. Next up are my 2 cycle engines which consist of my string trimmers, edgers, blowers, hedge trimmers and chain saws. These engines require air filter cleaning and/or replacement, new spark plugs and thoroughly cleaning and lubricating the entire machine.
2. Hand Tool Maintenance.
My collection of hand tools is large and includes everything from my favorite pair of pruning shears to my 48″ level headed grading rake. I personally inspect every piece of equipment looking for damaged parts or something that might break and cause a delay in my work day. I make sure all surfaces are clean and free of caked up dirt and debris from the previous season. Once the tools are clean I sharpen every single blade and the cutting edge of all shovels. A sharp clean shovel will outperform a dirty one every day of the week. My shovels are not sharpened to the point where they will be dangerous but a nice clean edge does wonders. Finally I spray all metal surfaces and moving parts with spray lubricant which helps to keep tools clean as well as inhibits rust.
3. Soil Testing.
Some readers may have never heard of a soil test but it’s the single most important task in maintaining a healthy lawn. A soil test is performed by gathering a sampling of the soil from around your property, sending it to a lab and having it analyzed. My primary reason for a soil test is checking the pH level of the soil. If soil pH is off in any direction,it could mean the difference between a SHOW LAWN and a disaster! I go into great detail on soil testing in a 10 step series that I published last year titled “UPDATED: Ten Insider Secrets to a Perfect Lawn”. All of these 10 steps should be listed in the right hand margin. I recommend reading it over at your leisure.
4. Rake your Lawn
Now is the ideal time to wake up that lawn. For best results, I recommend using a spring tine rake. These are rakes with thin metal tines attached to springs which provide a pressurized combing of the grass and root zone. This gentle stroke stimulates the grass plants. Spring tine rakes are great for raking up twigs from the surface of the lawn as well as removing any thatch that may have built up over the winter. After raking the entire lawn and placing all of the debris in your compost bin(much more on compost in future blogs), cut your grass using one of the lower settings on your lawn mower. If the gentle raking doesn’t wake up your lawn,the first buzz of the season will!
Early spring lawn feeding is the final step in getting the chlorophyll moving and the green up process. For my regular readers, you know that I do not advocate any type of “5 or 6 or however many step plan”! These programs only encourage grass to grow rapidly and become green which always results in hot weather brown out or the need for excessive watering. For more detailed information on my recommendations for feeding a lawn, read my series “UPDATED: Ten Insider Secrets to a Perfect Lawn” listed in the right hand margin. I recommend bio nutritional fertilizers which are geared towards building healthy soils, deep root systems and strong immune systems to naturally resists pests and disease through the use of beneficial bacteria. For fast green up in the spring, I use straight urea which is available from feed supplies and most nurseries.
That should keep you busy for this week! Now get out there and get dirty!!!
If you would like to have these landscaping tips delivered directly to your email inbox, click on the link in the right hand margin titled “Landscaping Tips Delivered”. As soon I hit the publish key, these blogs are delivered right to your email inbox.
As always if you have a landscape/gardening question or have a project in mind, contact me in any of the following ways or post a comment below…
P.O. Box 1066
Cape May, NJ 08204