April 15, 2013

By Steve Scheuring, Horticulturalist, Twin Oaks Landscape

As spoken so well by Mr. Robin Williams, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, let’s party!” Spring is an exciting time to be in the great outdoors, blossoms are budding everywhere, the grass is waking up and Michiganders are stepping outside – ready to enjoy the warm season.   So, let’s get outside and enjoy the colors and smells Michigan offers us every spring.

I’ve spoken with many people interested in enhancing and maintaining their landscapes and most have the desire, but lack the knowledge to complete the tasks properly and efficiently.  The following advice may guide you in the right directions to be the envy of your neighbors.  Of course, if anything is beyond your level of desire, knowledge or ability, contact a reputable landscape company with the experience, knowledge and education to assist you in acquiring all your desires for your outdoor living space.

– Cut back ornamental grasses and the remaining perennials.  New growth on ornamental grasses and perennials will benefit from not having to compete with the previous year’s growth and it will limit the possibility of allowing the new growth to get pest or diseases that were harboring on the rotting material.  Also, that material is typically unattractive.

– Redefine the landscape beds with natural edging and add a fresh layer of mulch to all landscape beds and tree rings.  Keeping a nice edge will limit the spread of undesired weeds that spread through underground rhizomes which enter your landscape beds.  Applying a 2-4” layer of mulch will limit the germination and establishment of new weeds.  Mulch also keeps the soil moisture and temperature more constant, which in turn, limits stress to desired plant material.  New mulch is like putting a new coat of paint on your landscape!  Before you mulch, apply a slow release fertilizer to all your perennials, shrubs and trees, following the application rates on the package.

– Pruning can be one of the most difficult, time consuming and over-looked task in the landscape.  Unfortunately, there are few landscape companies in the area that have the proper knowledge, equipment or manpower to complete this very important landscape maintenance service.  At any time of the year, it is important to remove dead, diseased or broken branches.  This will limit the transfer of pest and diseases to healthy and new branches.  Prior to leaf budding in the spring, structural pruning, such as removing crisscrossing branches will be easiest.  You may lose a few flowers, but the plant will benefit from it in the long run.  To optimize flowering, the rule of thumb is to prune immediately after blooming.  Each plant has an ideal time and manner of pruning, but hedge shears are rarely the best way.  Done properly, pruning will help with the overall health, appearance and longevity of your plant material.

– Test the sprinkler system and repair any leaking or broken heads.  Limiting water loss will reduce water bills and problems from too much water.  There is technology available that can retrofit existing systems for better water management.  Proper irrigation is imperative to maximize the chemical applications applied to the lawn areas, as well as minimize stress from heat and drought.  Once stress occurs on plant material, it could be too late.  The timer may need to be adjusted multiple times throughout the season for everything to be watered appropriately.  New technology allows for automatic water adjustment for your irrigation system.  A well designed and maintained irrigation system will assist in optimizing the overall appearance of the landscape.

Landscape work can be very rewarding, hence it is one of the top five American hobbies, but it can also be very labor intensive and tiring.  If it ever becomes overwhelming, please feel free to contact me.  Have a Spring to remember!