Pittsburgh’s growing season might still be a few weeks away, but even a slight break in the early spring weather could be enough to help you get a jump on your landscaping plans for the coming season. And it all gets started with the spring cleanup.

Use these landscape tips to turn a few mild days this winter into a critical head start on the growing season.

Identify Winter Damage

The first step in your spring cleanup program is identifying problem areas left over by winter stress.

Heavy snow, ice accumulation and high winds are common during the winter, and each takes its toll on your landscape. Check trees and woody shrubs for damage due to ice accumulation, looking for things such as broken branches and frost heaving of the roots.

It’s important to prune broken branches before the plant ‘wakes up’ for the spring. Clean pruning cuts will ensure that nutrients are sent to healthy branches when the plant comes back to life in the spring, and will look better without broken and hanging branches.

Turf damage is also common when leaves are left to pile up in the fall. Bare spots can be filled with soil and seed, and should be ready to germinate when the weather turns. Salt damage is also common near sidewalks and roads, resulting in a ‘browning’ of the grass.

Check out our post on the most common forms of winter landscape damage here.

Get Ahead on Mulch Beds

Cleaning up your planting beds is a quick way to get things looking clean and tidy before your plants begin to bloom.

Bed edges are great at catching leaves and other debris that gets blown around during the winter. Be sure to blow out the bed edges and clear any other organic debris from the old mulch. Your old edges can be redefined using a spade shovel to give them a crisp, clean line.

Fresh mulch will give your beds color right away, and will help to guard against weed encroachment when the weather warms. For even further weed control, apply a pre-emergent herbicide to the soil before applying mulch (but not too close to your plants!). This will create natural barriers against weeds before they’ve taken root.

Dethatch & Remove Organic Waste

Ever notice the distinct smell you get outdoors just after things have thawed out for the spring? That could be your landscape.

Without a thorough fall cleanup, organic debris can be left to rot under the snow throughout the winter. Some plants will continue to drop their leaves throughout December and January. Some perennials may also be left uncut until the spring.

A good way to get a jump on things in the Spring is to clean out any loose organic debris leftover from the winter. Mulch and planting beds are good places to start. From there, work outward from your house, collecting old leaves, broken branches & limbs and other damaged plants.

Turf can also take a beating under the snow. When things have dried out, dethatching – lightly raking compacted dead grass out of your lawn – is a great way to create space for airflow throughout your turf.

Removing these items not only cleans up the appearance of your landscape but will also help to make way for new growth as soon as plants are ready to grow again.

Compost Topdressing & Turf Patch Work

In densely-packed planting beds, especially those that will eventually be used for annual gardens, composting is an excellent way to increase the nutrient content of your soil.

Even as early as your spring cleanup, applying compost to planting beds gives the soil time to become rich with nutrients your plants will take up throughout the growing season.

Applying these fertilizers early is also a great “naturalized” process. A well-mended planting bed that receives organic compost will reduce the need to add synthetic fertilizers to your plants.

Your turf can also benefit from early soil amendment. Bare spots in the lawn and areas damaged by salt use in the winter can be patched with soil and grass seed early, and will be ready for germination when the weather breaks.

Professional Spring Cleanup

Our landscape maintenance crews have already begun to tackle our spring cleanup list for 2018, but there’s still plenty of time to add your home or business to our schedule. Contact us today for a free consultation of your property and find out how our professional maintenance services will give your landscape the perfect start to the 2018 season.

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