By Robin Catalano
While it may have seemed like winter took forever to release her icy grip on the Northeast, spring has arrived in spectacular fashion, with temperatures rising, trees blooming, and yards and fields greening up in the space of just a couple weeks. Now that the weather is consistently warm enough to enjoy the outdoors for long periods, it’s time to reconnect with the natural world, and think about how your spring landscaping fits into the picture.
The heavy snowfall of the past season might not have been fun to shovel—or to watch piling up alongside the driveway—but we’re grateful for it. Water tables are up, which increases plant root growth, nutrient uptake, and production. We’ve already seen an explosion of grasses, tree leaf buds, and early spring flowers like daffodils and tulips because of the snowmelt, and if we continue getting sufficient rainfall, we’ll have a summer of beautiful lawns and blooms to look forward to.
It’s easy to get frustrated with the volatility of the Berkshire climate—warm and sunny one day and chilly and rainy the next—but temperatures that take their time to warm up make for happy fruit trees. Cooler temperatures are also beneficial for cold-weather vegetable crops, like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, kale, peas, onions, and potatoes, so there’s no better time to get out into the garden and start planting.
If you’re not yet ready to begin digging, garden planning can be just as fun. Start by preparing your beds, weeding and tilling the soil with some rich compost; [link to your compost on website, if available] this will ensure it will be ready to nourish your vegetables and flowers. For annual beds, use multicolored plant stakes Multi-Colored Labels Link to simulate plant spacing and color groupings. Don’t aim for perfection; there’s no such thing, and you’ll often find that your plantings look even more beautiful when you allow them to have a touch of wildness.
Spring isn’t just for garden planning; it’s also perfect for a little organic lawn TLC. Link to Nature Works Organic Lawn Care Programs. Rake away leaves, twigs, and any road-plow debris, and let the grass bask in the warm rays of the sun and the cooling, hydrating rains. It’s tempting to go out and mow right away to make the length consistent, but you’ll want to wait until the grass is more than 3 inches high before giving it its first haircut of the season. Cultural Practices Link Here.
This is also a great time for aerating your lawn and seeding any patches that may have been burned at the end of summer or damaged by snow plowing. We like a grass mix with micro clover, which not only adds a burst of bright green to your backyard, but also grows well in and adds nitrogen to poor soils. This restores the health of your lawn and will help prevent the growth of crabgrass and weeds—both symptoms of poor soil quality.
Whichever grass mix you choose, avoid spreading pesticides or herbicides on your lawn—now or at any time in the growing season—even sprays meant to kill dandelions. These wonder herbs actually play an important role in your backyard ecosystem. Their long tap roots allow them to access minerals and then pass on to the surrounding soils, and they provide the first food of the season for hungry honeybees. In addition to being edible, dandelions are also used in a variety of medicinal remedies, as well as in a citrusy herbal wine and a healthful substitute for your morning. Dandelion Wine Recipe and Dandelion Coffee Recipe.
Working on our spring landscaping and spending time outdoors aren’t luxuries for when we “have enough time”; they’re human needs that restore our physical and mental well-being, and make us feel vital and alive. So get outside and walk or hike through the forest and observe the newly growing wildflowers and mushrooms. Skip the treadmill and take a jog around your neighborhood, and feel the fresh air fill your lungs. Weed the garden and relish the feeling of the damp, cool earth under your fingers. Rake or mow the lawn and enjoy the sun on your skin and the sensations of your muscles stretching, moving, working. No matter which way you choose to connect with nature this spring, viewing our landscape as an extension of our homes is a meditative, enriching experience that allows us to escape our always-on tech world and get in touch with what’s living and changing around us.
Ready to start your spring landscaping? Get in touch today.
About the writer:
Robin Catalano is a content strategist, consultant, and copywriter for websites, blogs, social media, and e-mail, as well as traditional print marketing. She has a special affinity for blogs, having served as the managing editor for a corporate digital and content marketing program, and as an independent blogger and a blogging instructor. She’s also a journalist for regional and national publications, as well as the editor of more than 350 fiction and nonfiction books. An avid hiker and traveler, Robin loves writing about the natural world, even if her own landscaping is still a work in progress. Visit her at robinwriter.com.