With so many Americans working from home—or at the very least, spending weekends at home—due to social distancing and stay at home orders, many are putting their idle hands to work on home improvements and landscaping. Going outdoors and getting your hands dirty can also be a great way to reduce stress and spend quality time with family. If you can safely source material, here are a few tips on where to focus your home landscaping efforts:
- Trimming: With the right equipment (pruning shears or loppers), this often-overlooked aspect can enhance the safety of your property. Look for dead or dying tree limbs and overgrown plants that might block sightlines or impede access to windows, gutters, roofs, fire exits, and HVAC units.
- Mulch: This is an easy way to spruce up existing beds and trees/shrubs, but many homeowners have a tendency to overdo it.
- If you have a build-up of mulch from previous years, be sure to de-mulch before adding new material.
- Look for at least double, or better yet, triple-shredded bark mulch that is either natural or brown/black dyed. You can buy this in bulk or in three cubic foot plastic bags.
- Typically, existing mulch beds should be dressed with no more than 1-2 inches of fresh mulch. For newly installed or never mulched beds, use as much as three inches. Be sure to keep away from the base of trees and shrubs to avoid damage to the thin bark.
- In April, or for the first two or three mowings, leave the grass height around 3.5 inches. As we get into May and growth surges, you may need to mow more often (at least once a week, preferably every six days) and may have to bump up to 3.75 or even 4 inches for turf-type tall fescue lawns to avoid excessive clippings.
- Mulching clippings vs. bagging and removing them is recommended for a healthy yard, and it’s more environmentally friendly as it reduces yard waste in landfills.
- Don’t mow when grass is wet to avoid a ‘matted’ look.
- Alternate mowing patterns (a.k.a. ‘stripes’) to keep grass healthy. Repeatedly mowing in the same direction can cause ruts. Also, shorter blades of grass may be overshadowed by taller ones and not get enough sun, causing them to die.
- Remember to keep mower blades sharp so the grass is neatly cut and not torn.
- New Plant Material:
- When choosing flowers, bright annuals create instant impact but typically last only through the season. Perennials are often more subdued but return year after year.
- Pay attention to the recommended requirements for sunlight and water; some species do best in full sunlight with minimal moisture, while others prefer shade and lots of water. Planting in the wrong location on your property can mean a wasted investment.
- Be sure to thoroughly water any newly planted material; at least several times in the first two weeks.
You don’t have to be a landscape professional to have a yard you can be proud of. Now might be the perfect time to redirect some of your energy into making it look its best for you and your family to enjoy. We hope these simple tips help you get started and that your refreshed landscape brings you some joy.