Get ahead of the game with these tips from WaterQuest. Tackle these maintenance items now to get your yard ready for the growth spurt to come. No time to get it all done? Not to worry, WaterQuest is here to help.
March in the Desert Southwest is notoriously unpredictable. Shrubs can be laced with snow on the first of the month, and then, a couple of weeks later, temperatures can warm up enough for flower and leaf buds to show signs of life. Water can be abundant in the soil from a wet winter or plants and trees may be starving for a drink, especially with our notorious march winds.
Some early spring cleanup tasks are sure things this time of year. “March is a great time to get a plan in place for the spring, especially if you are interested in a landscaping addition or upgrade,” says Robert Biernacki, Owner of WaterQuest Landscaping .
So, where to start?
We put together a list of 7 tasks to help you prioritize and help make your yard be the best on the block.
- Prune Away Dead and Damaged Branches from Trees and Shrubs.
Where tree or shrub branches have been damaged by cold, snow, and wind, prune back to live stems; use a handsaw for any larger than ½ inch in diameter. Shaping hedges with hand pruners, rather than electric shears, prevents a thick outer layer of growth that prohibits sunlight and air from reaching the shrub’s center. Prune summer-flowering shrubs, such as Rose of Sharon, before buds swell, but wait to prune spring bloomers, like forsythia, until after they flower. Trim overgrown evergreens back to a branch whose direction you want to encourage.
- Cut Grasses and Divide Perennials as Needed.
Prune flowering perennials to a height of 4–5 inches and ornamental grasses to 2–3 inches to allow new growth to shoot up. Dig up perennials, such as daylilies to thin crowded beds; divide them, leaving at least three stems per clump, and transplant them to fill in sparse areas. On climbers, keep younger green canes and remove older woody ones; neaten them up by bending the canes horizontally and tipping the buds downward. Use twine or gentle Velcro fasteners to hold the canes in place. A pair of sharp bypass pruners makes a clean cut on both dead and living foliage.
- Clean Up Around Beds and Borders.
Rake out fallen leaves and dead foliage (which can smother plants and foster disease), pull up spent annuals. Once the threat of frost has passed remove existing mulch to set the stage for a new layer once spring planting is done. Now is a good time to spread a granular fertilizer tailored to existing plantings on the soil’s surface so that spring rains can carry it to the roots. Use pins to fasten drip irrigation lines that have come loose and a square-head shovel to give beds a clean edge and keep turf grass from growing into them.
- Get the Water Flowing.
Irrigation check-ups in the spring are a must. Are all your drip lines working or are some of them clogged due to New Mexico’s hard water? Any irrigation leaks? Timer set properly? Are sprinkler heads covering grass areas only? Water is key to a fruitful growing season, but overuse can mean wasting a valuable desert commodity. Not to mention, overwatering can actually kill some low water xeriscape plants and trees.
- Prep Damaged Lawn Areas for Spring Seeding.
Remove turf damaged by the winter, overwatering or disease to prepare for the seeding that should follow in a few weeks. Aerate and de-thatch the yard to allow for new growth and absorption of fertilizers. Apply fertilizer or pre-emergent fertilizer if weeds were a concern the previous year. If re-seeding, work in a ½-inch layer of compost to keep the new seed moist, increasing the germination rate.
- Neaten Up Hardscape Surfaces.
Rake escaped gravel back into aggregate walkways and patios, and order more gravel to spread in large depressions, which often form near the driveway’s apron. Refill joints between flagstones by sweeping in new sand; water with a hose to set it, then repeat. If the freeze-thaw cycle has heaved pavers out of place, give us a call and we can reset any pavers as needed.
- Make the Most of Your Gravel Mulch
Blow your gravel mulch beds to ensure that leaf and debris are thoroughly removed. Top dress areas where filter fabric is showing for the best look. Treat areas with pre-emergent to maintain a weed free gravel bed. If weeds are already present, treat area with post-emergent as well.
Follow these seven steps and you’ll be sure to have a yard that turns heads, and remember, your friends at WaterQuest are here to help! Call our office to schedule your spri
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