It’s spring in Iowa and there’s a lot to do to prepare your yard! We’ve got some tips below we think you’ll like and if you need help – you know who to call. 😉
1. Clean it up!
If you’re like us, you probably didn’t get to rake all your leaves before that first Iowa snowfall. Dang it! Well now you can and you should. Rake your beds or better yet, if you have a blower-vacuum, mulch em up and either use the mulch as fertilizer in flower beds, to patch bare spots in your lawn, or simply dispose of it. Pick up branches and other debris and dispose of them as well.
Beds that are adjacent to your lawn can even be easier to clean if you also have a mower that mulches. Simply rake or blow leaves onto your lawn and mulch those up! If you can’t mulch, that’s OK, just follow the tip above.
As great a mulch is for lawns it does tend to leave debris that can get in the way of spring growth. That plus dead grass is why we recommend that the first thing you do for your lawn is to rake it. No need to break your back, simply grab a good rake – make it a fairly solid one so you can dig in – and rake as much debris out of your lawn as possible.
If you’re a young guy like Alex, do as much as you can every day. But if you’re like Todd, you’ll probably want to pace yourself by choosing a section of lawn each day until you can complete it.
Aeration is one of those tasks people don’t like to do yet it yields great results, especially with Iowa soil!
Rather than bore you with the steps required to do this well, here is a handy link to some great content from the DIY Network.
Now is the best time to fertilize your lawn and consider applying a pre-emergent herbicide to stop those pesky weeds from taking over (especially that Creeping Charlie!) If you’d rather no use chemicals, some people like corn gluten meal, developed by Iowa State University as an organic alternative to pre-emergent herbicide.
After you fertilize, follow the directions and if you want to, over seed your lawn to make it fuller and to fill in the bare spots. Though fall is the best time to do this, if you have the time and the money, this certainly won’t hurt!
Now that we’ve got your lawn moving in the right direction, it’s time to consider the rest of your property. One of the first places to start is with trees and bushes. Look for growth that is sporadic and crazy looking and trim that. If you have flowering bushes that didn’t bloom last year or didn’t seem to get enough blooms, trim them back! That will create even more growth this year. Same goes for seemingly dead areas in trees. Remember, in Iowa plants typically take off in May so you if you prune early, you’ll get to see practically immediate results!
7. Make a plan
Now is the time to create your plan for flowers, vegetables and anything else you’re going to plant, fill in with, or move this year. You can start a lot of plants now, indoors, and do your serious planting a little later in Spring. To help you plan along you can either map things out by hand or try some of the neat software and apps available like this one from Iowa’s own Better Homes and Gardens.
8. Work those Perennials
One of the best gardening tips we can give you is to plant perennials. We know, it’s hard to remember but annuals are those you have to plant every year because they die when it gets cold, and perennials kind of hibernate when it gets cold so when you plant them, they’ll be in your garden for as long as you want them! Many perennials will spread too, which can be a plus or a minus dependent upon how much you like them ☺ Here’s a great list of perennials specifically for Iowa.
9. Start planting
It’s never too early to plant! You can actually start planting certain slower growing plants and vegetables in March and fast germinating cool season plants now! Don’t guess though, here is a handy calendar specifically for Iowa.
You don’t have to wait to plant to mulch, though it will certainly be easier to do so. Your call but regardless of when you decide to do it, mulch is important to keep moisture in, weeds out, and it will make your garden look great as well! There are millions of articles written about how mulch, what kind of mulch to use, and blah, blah, blah. So rather than give you yet another opinion, we’ll defer to the good folks at Better Homes and Gardens who get paid for that!