The official start of spring is fast approaching and temperatures here in Central Texas are already warming up! Many of us have already caught spring fever, so to help you scratch that itch I’ve whipped up a spring recovery plan.
Step 1: Remove damaged plants.
Even though it wasn’t much of a winter, dry conditions and freezing temperatures have wreaked havoc on weak and dying plants. For those plants that didn’t survive, say your final words, and then dig them up. If they are free of pests and diseases go ahead and compost them. If they have any fungus or infections, just stick them in the trash.
For the plants that have survived, but still look a little worse for wear, trim away damaged limbs and remove any dead foliage. This will divert nutrients to healthy limbs and shoots and encourage new growth.
Step 2: Scalp and aerate your lawn.
Fluctuating temperatures, traffic, and other factors slowly compact soil over time. This makes it difficult for water, nutrients, and most importantly oxygen from getting down to the roots–right where your plants need it most. Aerating the soil creates pockets in the compacted earth, allowing oxygen and nutrients to find their way to plant roots. Most residential sized aerators don’t get down far enough to do any good, so its best to use a commercial grade aeartor. Be warned, they are powerful machines and should be handled with care if you plan to do it yourself, otherwise leave it to the pros.
Step 3: Replenish nutrients.
Promote growth and feed surviving plants by replenishing much needed nutrients. A top dressing of dillo dirt or other high grade compost is always a good addition. You can follow that with an application of fertilizer. A few caveats when it comes to fertilizer:
- Test your soil first to find out what your yard really needs.
- When applying fertilizer yourself READ AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY.
Not only will you protect yourself and your pets, but by following the directions and application rates properly you insure that none of it ends up in our streams and water supply. There’s no need to add more than what the package says. Your yard can only use so much fertilizer. Everything else just runs off with the first rain or bath from the sprinkler, so stick with recommendations. If money or waste is a concern, see if your neighbor wants to go in with you on a bag before purchasing.
You should check your irrigation at least twice a year in the spring and fall to look for any leaks, clogged or broken heads, and any other adjustments that need to be made. Rune through a complete cycle and watch how each head in each zone is functioning. Have any moved? Are certain ares getting more or less water than others? Are the heads extending fully? By checking your irrigation you not only insure that your plants are getting the right amount of water, but that your also avoiding costly repairs and utility bills. Just remember that different plants have different watering needs.
Step 5: Add some color!
Now that you’ve cleaned up your landscape, feed your hungry plants, and checked your irrigation system its time to invite in some spring color! Replace dead plants with new, native or adapted varieties. Sprinkle some colorful annuals in flower beds and then finish it all off with a sprinkling of mulch to preserve water, discourage weeds, and add a polished look. Texas hardwood mulch is a personal favorite, but any mulch will do. Just make sure it was properly treated and processed. Avoid free mulches. They often come with unwanted pests and diseases.
That’s about it! It doesn’t take much, just a little TLC and some smart maintenance to keep your yard healthy year round. Most of all, its important to get out and enjoy this great weather before triple digit temperatures settle in over Austin.