Outdoor Living Season is Coming: Get Ready for Spring

Monday, April 13, 2015

There may still be a chill in the air and it’s way too early to start planting flowers, but there are steps to take on a sunny day in April that will make sure your outdoor space is well on its way to a spectacular spring. Whether you have a small front yard or an expansive rear lawn with trees and garden beds, it’s time to make the most of April’s showers and warmer days.

10 tips for early spring

  1. Start your spring cleaning outdoors. If your yard is anything like mine, there are bits of fall leaves (sometimes piles) still hanging around and scraps of firewood leftover from winter. Before you can make any decisions about how you want your garden to look this year, you have to get the broken branches from stormy weather and other debris picked up. Melting snow probably pushed some of your mulch into the wrong places, too. Take some time and a trash bag to shake off the cold weather blues from your yard.
  2. Prune your shrubs. Part two of the clean-up process should be to trim the broken branches and any twisted limbs from your shrubs. If you have roses, you can prune them now, too, but avoid trimming your azaleas, rhododendrons and mountain laurels even if they look dried out since they’re on the verge of blooming.
  3. Clean up your perennial plants. While you may have trimmed these plants in the fall, if you didn’t, then now is the time to cut back dead foliage for a fuller bloom later in the season.
  4. Neaten your edges. If you have a garden bed or a front walk next to your lawn, it’s a good idea to either trim the edges now for a sharper look or to make plans for putting in edging materials such as stones or bricks.
  5. Rainy day research. Since April’s weather can be unpredictable, you can use a cold or rainy day to do some indoor landscaping prep. Some topics to look into include:
    - What time of year to plant particular flowers, vegetables or shrubs
    - Which plants are native to our area so you can be more certain they will thrive in your yard
    - How to plan for growth so that you don’t plant too sparsely or too closely together
    - Which plants require maintenance – and which don’t – especially if you want to spend your summer days by the pool instead of pulling weeds
  6. Test your soil. If you haven’t planted anything in your yard and don’t know what will do well there, you may want to do a simple soil test so you know if you need to add nutrients to help your plants grow healthy and strong.
  7. Check your equipment. While you should have put away your lawn mower with great care last fall, not everyone remembers to do that autumn task. Check on your lawn mower to make sure it’s working well and while you’re at it, check out your other supplies such as shovels, gardening gloves, plant food and fertilizer so you know what you may need when you’re ready to start digging.
  8. Start killing weeds now. If you had a lot of trouble keeping up with the weeds at your place last year, then you may want to look into purchasing some “pre-emergent” weed killer to apply to your trouble spots.
  9. Check out your patio furniture. Winter weather can play havoc with more than just your plants: your furniture may have suffered some damage, too. See what needs to be cleaned and repaired or even replaced. Don’t forget to dig out your umbrella and make sure it’s ready to provide you with the shade you’ll crave in a few months.
  10. Daydream a little. Think about how you used your outdoor space last year and what you wished you had to make it more pleasant. Maybe an outdoor heater is on your wish list so you can enjoy your space even in cooler weather. Or maybe you had a great time sitting around your neighbor’s fire pit one evening last year or you’ve always fantasized about having a water feature or just a hammock in your yard. Now’s the time to think about how to make your outdoor space functional and fun. Even if a full-on outdoor kitchen isn’t in your budget, a tiny grill and a little bistro table can makeover your small yard into a little piece of paradise.