Julie and I are planning to get out in the yard over the next two weekends to work on some springtime yard maintenance. Here’s our checklist to help you in your own yard:

Aerate and over-seed your lawn.

Aerators can be rented at many home improvement stores and are quite affordable. Consider teaming up with a friend or neighbor to reduce the cost. We’ll use a core aerator rather than a spike aerator to avoid compacting the soil too much. It’s best to aerate in a crosshatch pattern — first going in one direction then turning 90 degrees to go the other direction. There’s no need to do any more than that, and it’s ok to leave the cores on the ground as they’ll dissolve back into the soil (you’ll also save time by not having to collect them!).

If your soil drains poorly, this is a good time to top dress your lawn with sand to improve drainage. When overseeding, be sure to use the most appropriate grass seed for your yard’s sunlight conditions.

Fertilize evergreens like Holly, Rhododendron and Azalea.

spring-maintenance-checklist-rhododendronFor our own evergreens, we use Holly tone fertilizer. By fertilizing flowering evergreens now, you’ll get a burst of blooms when the weather officially warms up.

Edge landscape beds.

Over the winter, the edges of landscape beds deteriorate due to snow and rain so spring is the best time to reestablish the edge. For edging, we prefer a hand-cut V-trench rather than a physical edging such as plastic or metal barriers. The hand cut edge is easier to maintain since you won’t have to trim the edge every time you mow. When creating a bed edge, we recommend that you spray the bed line first with marking paint so you don’t lose track of the shape you’re trying to create. If you work on the bed edge before you mulch, you can use the bed to spread the excess soil and then mulch over it.

Mulch landscape beds.

At the Carex Design Group world headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn. (aka: our house), we use pine straw mulch because it’s truly a renewable resource and provides a very natural look to the landscape. Whatever type of mulch you use, you can help suppress new weeds before they sprout by putting it down early. Many landscape professionals will hand roll pine straw bed edges to give the bed a clean, finished look. Doing so also prevents the pine straw from blowing into the yard.

Add organics to your garden.

To ensure your garden soil is rich in nutrients, it’s a great idea to add organics to your garden such as peat, compost and sand (for drainage in heavy clay soils).

Clean hardscapes with chemical cleaners.

You should never pressure wash pavers or wall block as it will ruin the joint sand and blow off some of the smaller aggregate pieces of the paver. There are many chemical cleaners available for pavers, just be sure to follow the instructions on the product. We suggest that you avoid using cleaners on hot, full-sun days and rinse thoroughly when you’re done. Without rinsing, you’ll likely leave a chalky haze on the paver. If you have specific stains from rust, oil, leaves or walnuts, you can find cleaners specific for those problems. Techniseal and Alliance are two companies that have cleaning products we like. If you’re unsure what to use to clean your hardscapes, contact us and we’ll find the right product for you.

Plant woody shrubs and trees.

We decided to stay true to our street name — Dogwood Road — by planting a few new Dogwood trees in our backyard this year. When it comes to trees and shrubs, it’s important to choose the right location by taking its eventual size into consideration. Misplacement is a mistake many homeowner make. If you need help, we’re happy to create a basic design for you to follow as you do the planting on your own.

When we tackle our outdoor improvements and maintenance, Julie claims she’s lucky to have a live-in landscape designer available to answer her questions. If you have questions, now is the time to contact a designer to plan your improvements and additions for the year. At Carex Design Group we not only offer free estimates but we also provide consultation services for an hourly fee. It’s a great option if what you need is someone to walk around your yard with you and offer tips and advice.

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