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Spring Landscape Management
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Minnesota Community Living March/April 2011

Spring Landscape Management

By Jim Gannon, Prescription Landscape

Clean-up: A thorough spring cleanup is an essential start for a healthy landscape. The spring clean-up should be completed as soon as weather and ground conditions permit, usually no later than May 1. Cleanup in lawn areas should be done by power vacuuming, power blowing, power mulching or hand raking. Power mulching should be utilized where possible to recycle nutrients and organic matter back into the soil. All areas such as shrub beds, building foundations, and around obstacles are usually best cleaned by power blowing or hand raking to remove leaves and debris. Ornamental grasses and other perennial plants that are not cut back in the fall will need old foliage to be removed.

Salty Soils
Salt damage that kills vegetation can be a problem for sites that require significant use of ice melting products. Residual salt in the soil will cause a problem for plants in not allowing them to take in needed nutrients. Gypsum is a product that is applied to strategic areas of your turf to allow available nutrients to be taken into the plants and for the sodium particles to more easily leach out of the soil. Annual gypsum applications in the late fall will help in combating this common problem.

Weed Control
Crabgrass is a common weed found in Minnesota lawns controlled with proper spring management practices. Crabgrass is a warm season annual grass which is in contrast to cool season perennial grasses that make up desired Minnesota lawns. Creating an ideal environment for the desirable cool season grasses is the key to maintaining a weed-free lawn. A thick and lush lawn will prevent most of your crabgrass seeds from establishing. However, this can be a challenge in damaged turf areas along curb-lines and sidewalks. Working with a Landscape Management Professional to find the right balance and establish a strategy for managing difficult and independently unique areas is recommended to create a detail-oriented landscape plan.

Sod or Soil/Seed Installation
Sod or soil/seed installation is sometimes necessary to repair damaged turf areas as a result of winter snow removal services. If not treated, these damaged areas will harbor weeds and develop unsightly features. To repair these damaged areas, sod most often will give you consistent and desirable results but is more expensive versus a soil/seed installation. Installing soil/seed will render sometimes inconsistent results, but if watered properly with available nutrients it provides a good value solution.

Taking a macro view of your spring landscape management program is important for success. Property managers and homeowners should consider the numerous implications for landscape maintenance decisions and variable weather that can have a dramatic effect on desired results. An experienced landscape management professional will be out in front of the common reoccurring landscape management problems and ready to respond in a timely fashion. Many issues present a small window of opportunity to resolve common problems, requiring future planning and an open, trust-based relationship with your landscape management professional.

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