Spring has arrived and it’s time to get your yard in tip-top shape for the season. Since this is the Garden State, we think it’s every New Jersey resident’s obligation to keep a well-manicured lawn that is the pride of the neighborhood. Don’t know where to start? We’ll help you discover your green thumb with this handy step-by-step guide to prepare your yard for spring:
1. Know Your Zone
The government puts out a handy guide, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which helps gardeners figure out what grows best in their local climate. This information is particularly useful for those making online seed purchases for their spring garden. Even though New Jersey is a large state, the climate is similar throughout. Most of the state falls in either Zones 6a, 6b, 7a or 7b. When purchasing seeds or plants, be sure to ask the vendor whether the plant is suited for your zone.
2. Create a Plan for Your Garden
Once you get an idea of which plants will grow best in your garden, you can start planning. Look around your yard and determine which areas get the best sunlight or if there are any drainage problems that need correcting. Determine how you’re going to address these issues and take any necessary action. Next, think about how you’d like the garden to look and draw a sketch of where everything will go. Keep in mind that flowers and plants take time to bloom. Consider the maximum size when deciding how many plantings to include.
3. Clean Up & Prepare
Before you start planting, make sure your yard is in good shape. Start by picking up any stray leaves, twigs or debris that might have flown onto your property during one of those winter storms. Remove any dead plants or leftover decorative cabbage from the fall. Take your lawn furniture out of storage and make sure it’s sparkling clean. Dig out any accessories, such as lawn signs, flamingos or garden gnomes, and make sure they are display ready.
4. Give the Lawn Some Loving
A healthy green lawn is the centerpiece of most suburban yards. To start the season, you should thatch the lawn by using a trowel to remove a layer of lawn and dirt about three inches thick. It’s important to do this once the lawn has thawed after the winter. Next, you should prime the area with lime, which corrects the pH balance of the lawn and can help prevent brown patches. Finally, you should add seed (or sod for a quicker fix) and plain fertilizer to bring out the bright green of the grass and avoid weeds.
5. Plant Your Spring Garden
Spring gardens look lovely with some flowers and plants. Some types you might consider are azaleas, rhododendron, evergreens and perennials, which will come back year after year. You should also plant annuals, which will last for just one season, such as begonias, impatiens and geraniums. If you are planting a vegetable garden, put seeds down as soon as the weather is good and there is no more risk of frost coming.