4 Ways to Prep Your Yard for Summer

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Spring is the perfect time to get outside and clean up your yard. The weather is mild and perfect for working outdoors. Plus, if you tackle your outdoor chores now, you’ll have a beautiful setting to enjoy all summer long. Following are four tips for preparing your yard for the hot months ahead.

1. Clean up Lawn Debris

A rake on a lawn.

If left alone for a while, debris on your yard will gradually build up. Sticks, branches, acorns, pine cones, and leaves are just some of the items you may need to deal with. Start with removing large branches and sticks. Depending upon your location, you can move them to the woods, burn them, or arrange for pick-up.

Once you’ve cleared your lawn of the larger items, you can move on to the smaller items. Leaves, pine cones, and acorns can be raked. If you find you only have leaf debris, consider mowing over the leaves. The leaf debris will compost and add nutrients to your lawn.

2. Treat Your Lawn

After cleaning up your lawn debris, you’ll hopefully be left with a yard full of grass. In late spring, your grass should be green and tall. Now is the perfect time to aerate, treat, and mow your lawn.

Compacted lawns need to be aerated. Aeration involves perforating your lawn with small holes. This allows for air, water, and nutrients to reach the grass roots. Over time, you’ll end up with a thicker and healthier lawn. You can hire someone or purchase (and possibly rent) an aerator from your local hardware or garden store.

If you wish to have a lush green lawn, you’ll need to treat it. Step one would be to reduce weeds and step two would be to feed your lawn. You can chemically treat your lawn or go with a more natural approach. Natural products are safer for children, animals, and are better for the environment. You can hire someone, or treat your lawn on your own following the steps below.

The best way to reduce weeds is to pull them by hand. Remove weeds before they go to seed and spread. Corn gluten, a non-toxic byproduct of corn processing, has been shown to kill weed seedlings within days of application. However, it's best applied in early spring. You can also make a variety of homemade, all-natural, weed sprays.

After tackling your weeds, you’ll want to feed your lawn. Many garden centers now carry organic fertilizer for your grass. It's best to treat your lawn two to three times a year. (For optimum results, fertilize in the spring, summer, and fall.)

Mow your lawn on a regular schedule and do not clip your grass too short. Letting your grass grow and then clipping it extremely short stresses the grass and can cause brown spots in your lawn. When you mow, consider leaving the grass clippings behind to decompose. These clippings will add nutrients to your lawn.

3. Tackle Shrubs and Plants

Shears pruning a rose bush.

Spring is also a great time to prune shrubs and divide overgrown plants. Be sure to look up instructions on how to prune your particular bush or shrub. A general rule of thumb is to cut out any dead branches and prune no more than one-third of the remaining plant. Most overgrown plants can be dug up, divided in half, and replanted.

4. Finishing Touches

When you’ve completed the above tasks, adding mulch to foundation plantings and garden beds will go a long way towards improving the look of your outdoor space. Mulch also keeps the roots of plants moist and helps to prevent weed growth.

Finally, consider adding pots or hanging baskets filled with flowering annuals. Most annuals bloom all summer long and will add a splash of color to your outdoor space.