An exceedingly mild winter has set the stage for grass and other plantings to begin growing far earlier than usual, requiring homeowners to get an early start on caring for lawns and planting beds.
The winter’s piecemeal frost barely penetrated the ground, opening the door for grass to begin greening up three to four weeks ahead of a normal year, said Todd Ruedt, owner of Grounds Maintenance Services, Brookfield. Perennials, shrubs and trees will all follow suit to welcome an abnormally early spring.
The accelerated growing season presents opportunities and challenges for homeowners.
“Few people will argue with an early spring and the cheer of plants growing again,” Ruedt said. “The flip side is that yard care normally done in April or May will be pushed into March, so homeowners should act soon to stock up on supplies or schedule the work to be done.”
The first step is cleaning leaves, branches and debris from grass and planting beds, Ruedt said. Lawn fertilization is next to nourish grass as it emerges from winter dormancy.
Early mulching will be especially important this spring, Ruedt said. Mulch is vital to protecting plant roots and holding in soil moisture. Because plants spent less time dormant this winter, they will require even more nutrients and safeguarding.
“The best time to mulch is before perennials emerge from the ground,” Ruedt said. “The plants will grow through several inches of mulch. The reason for mulch is protection, not aesthetics.”
Planting beds should also be treated earlier with a pre-emergent weed killer, Ruedt said. A pre-emergence treatment prevents weed seeds from germinating. Using a pre-emergent treatment on lawns will prevent crabgrass that shows up in mid- to late summer.
“Both lawns and planting beds should be treated early for weeds,” Ruedt said. “Weeds migrate between the two areas. Leaving one area untreated is a recipe for frustration later in the season.”
Press release written by Rick Moon with Lunar Communications.
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