Take a look out your window. How is your garden looking? If you feel like it’s lacking, but you’re not quite sure where to begin, here are three things that can be done now. Attending to your garden’s bed lines, lawn and old shrubs will make a big impact in your garden as the weather warms up and the season of outdoor living nears.
Formalize Bed Edges
Well defined, crisp, clean bed lines set a landscape apart. When there is no clear separation and balance in the yard, everything seems to run together with a lack of form. Mowing the lawn is a much more difficult task and the lawn inevitably creeps into the planting beds. By using large, sweeping, defined bed lines, the overall look of the landscape is simplified and the eye is not confused. Spade edged beds should be established and maintained at a depth of 4-6”, then mulched or planted with groundcover or perennials to prevent weed growth and conserve soil moisture.
Aerate and Overseed Your Lawn
Nothing gives more visual impact to your landscape than a beautiful, lush lawn. The best way for a thriving and healthy lawn is to win the battle against the weeds by core aerating and overseeding.
Soil compaction is a major ally to weedy species taking over an established lawn, and for this reason, it is important to core aerate every year. It is the single best thing you can do for your lawn. Core aeration not only allows new germination of seed to happen faster, but it strengthens the plants that exist already by breaking up the thatch layer and allowing each plant to put out new growth. Your lawn is in a constant battle between the desirable turf grass species and the undesirable weedy species that try to invade; and the strongest army will usually win the war.
Bring in more troops (or plants in this case) than your enemy by consistently overseeding the weak areas of your lawn in both spring and fall with high quality grass seed. Make sure you are using the appropriate seed for the particular area of your property. Shade is prevalent along the North Shore, and shade seed is readily available. You will attain considerably better results establishing a lasting lawn in the shade with the right seed. Overseeding yields the best results when seed is pre-mixed with a mixture of organic matter such as compost and a medium to retain moisture, such as peat moss. It is appropriate to mix these in a 1/3 ratio and spread around patchy areas of the lawn. This mixture improves seed to soil contact, protects bare seed from being blown away or easily eaten by birds, and allows the seed to be surrounded by moisture for a much longer period after irrigation.
Prune Old Shrubs
Whether it is a 30-year old Forsythia, a 15-foot tall Dogwood hedge or leggy Spirea, nothing sends your old landscape shrubs to the fountain of youth like a good hard pruning. Rejuvenation pruning refers to cutting the majority of the plant back, sometimes to the ground, sometimes just to the primary branch separation, so that vigorous new growth will sprout out. This will promote better overall plant structure, larger and more abundant blooms on flowering species and decrease pruning frequency associated with the plant. This should be done as early as possible in spring, so all the energy in a shrub’s roots can be diverted into developing new shoots instead.
Completing these tasks will start a good foundation for your garden’s development. Next post, we’ll show you wonderful new plant introductions to enhance your outdoor living.