For many people, especially those who love to putter in the garden, spring is by far the best time of year. Challenging winter weather can quickly be forgotten when spring brings showers, sunshine, new growth, and moderate temperatures. Watching new blossoms quickly come to life can be life-affirming and brings joy to even the most serious folk.
Spring is a great time to get the garden and yard ready for summer fun. Here are a few essential but not overwhelming projects that property owners can address now to ensure their yard and garden are beautiful all summer.
Plan for the Future
A well-thought-out yard and garden plan will mean the garden can grow with the household’s changing needs. Creating a variety of multifunctional spaces right off the bat means they won’t have to be completely overhauled in the future when needs or desires change. When the kids are young, they may use the lawn to play football, soccer, or frisbee. In time, this same space can be transformed with planting, whether with trees, grass, or vegetables for a home garden.
Choosing to garden organically can also help protect and nourish the health of the household members, neighbors, and the environment for many generations.
An organic label doesn’t only apply to food or shampoo. Organic gardening uses sustainable practices that focus on helping nature take care of itself. This type of rewarding gardening means gardeners don’t use chemicals and hazardous pesticides in their gardens or on their lawns. Organic gardening is healthier for the property owner and their family as well as the neighbors and environment. Whether growing flowers, food, or grass, using organic seeds is just the beginning of gardening organically.
Other organic gardening techniques include:
- Planting native, disease-resistant plants and seeds
- Using natural manures and organic fertilizers to improve soil quality
- Rotating the plants to prevent a build-up of disease organisms
- Using mulch to prevent weeds and disease and to retain soil moisture
- Adding natural compost to the soil to increase nutrients and aeration
- Using organic herbicides or pesticides and natural predators to eliminate pests and weeds
Organic gardening is a long-term approach to gardening as it may take years before the garden demonstrates the full effect of these techniques and the planning it requires.
Use Heirloom, Heritage, and Organic Seeds
Organic seeds come from organic sources, are open-pollinated and untreated, and don’t come from genetically modified plants. Heirloom and heritage seeds are usually organic and help preserve pure plant varieties and protect the gene pool of native plant species. Gardeners can also collect their own seeds at the end of the gardening season to plant the following year or exchange them with other organic gardeners.
Planning a perennial garden — one that uses plants that come up on their own each year — takes a lot of pressure off having to revamp the plan each year. Of course, perennials can be moved to accommodate additional plants or if they don’t thrive in their original planting spot. Perennials keep your garden looking good all year round as even some of their leaves and stalks are gorgeous in the fall and winter. These types of plants will also save gardeners some money since they don’t have to be purchased each year. To have some early color in the garden, it’s always fun to buy some flowering annuals while waiting for the perennials to reach their peak.
Control Pests Naturally
Spring growth also means aphids and garden pests will likely be abundant. Curled or poorly formed leaves on plants like citrus or fruit trees or rose bushes could be a sign they’ve arrived. To get rid of them naturally, gardeners can spray plants frequently with a jet of water to remove the aphids from the foliage. Some gardeners will also release ladybugs at dusk in the spring to naturally take care of the pests. Gardeners can remove snails and slugs by hand or set baits for them.
Adding a birdhouse and feeders can encourage insect-loving birds to make meals of the insect pests that feast on plants and trees.
Prepare the Beds
An environmentally friendly gardener will amend their soil with compost made of organic matter to prepare flowerbeds for optimal summer gardening. Compost will benefit the garden in several ways. It will enrich the soil and help keep its temperature stable, retain moisture around plants, and deter the growth of weeds. Gardeners should add about three inches of compost to the garden’s surface, or it can be slightly stirred in if the soil is sandy. Mulch needs to stay a few inches from tree trunks so as not to affect growth.
For added convenience and to save money, many gardeners set up a composter in their yards. Organic matter that has broken down provides several essential nutrients that plants can efficiently utilize, like potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. The magic of compost is that it breaks down slowly, releasing nutrients into the soil gradually as plants need them, rather than all at once, like unnatural fertilizers. Sandy soils benefit from the moisture-saving abilities of organic matter. Worms love compost and are great for gardens, as their tunnels and holes add much-needed aeration. Compost is also great at suppressing weeds and reducing certain types of plant diseases.
Conserve and Minimize Water Usage
It turns out that generally, plants love water that is warm and oxygen-rich rather than cold and potentially chemically treated from a hose. Water collected in rain barrels is really what plants thrive on, and collecting this free resource will create savings. Planting drought-tolerant plants and implementing drought-resistant landscaping will minimize the amount of water a garden needs, even in drought conditions. Replacing water-reliant lawns prone to weeds with alternative gardens that use bricks, stones, or low-lying clover, can create a fuss-free ground cover that requires little maintenance and few resources.
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