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Spring Cleaning

Preparing your garden for springtime

Late February and early March is the time to prepare for the coming spring. When temperatures begin to rise and the days begin to lengthen, it is a sign to rid your garden of any collected debris. Here are a few ways to prepare the outdoors for the approaching season.
  
Irrigation Maintenance
Irrigation contractors get extremely busy in the spring; prepare early so that your system can be functioning before temperatures warm up. Turning on the irrigation system early will allow you to make adjustments and spot problems – areas not being irrigated, for example.
 
Lighting Maintenance
There is a growing trend towards LED landscape lights that tend to require not much care, but for those who have older systems, there will always be the ongoing task of replacing light bulbs. While cleaning up the garden, remember to check all light bulbs and reposition any fixtures that might have shifted throughout the year. 
  
Pruning
The early spring is the time to cut back any grasses or perennials that you left standing during the winter. By cutting back the dead, you rejuvenate the plant for new growth. Many trees and shrubs can also be trimmed back in the spring. It is important to know what plants you are pruning; if not careful, you can cut off the flower buds for spring flowering plants such as dogwoods, lilacs, rhododendrons, and azaleas. Many plants like roses, crape myrtles, butterfly bushes, and many evergreen shrubs can be cut back before they begin to grow for the year.
 
Fertilization
Each year, it is a good idea to fertilize the plants in your landscape with a slow-release fertilizer. This will replenish beneficial nutrients that may have leached out of the soil over the year.
 
Pre-emergent Herbicide
Products such as Preen or Treflan can be added early in the year to inhibit unwanted seed germination in the garden. This can drastically cut down on the amount of weeds that will grow in your landscape.
 
Mulch
Once you have the general clean up and site maintenance done, it is time to mulch. There are many benefits to a properly mulched landscape. It helps to control weeds and moisture, and when mulch breaks down, beneficial nutrients are infused into the soil.
Be sure to use a premium hardwood mulch because some lower-quality mulches have large chunks in them that look unsightly and are slow to break down.

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