Yard Work?! For Me?! Oh Spring, You Shouldn’t Have!

by Andrea Foster,
Conservation Outreach Coordinator

Hey, guess what? It’s everyone’s favorite season! YARD CLEAN UP SEASON!!!!

While no one really loves yard work, there’s a pretty basic check list to go through each year. With one major overhaul done in the spring, your yard can be kept looking decent without mowing three times a week.

Below is a basic list (with fun photos!) that goes through Little Forks’ recommended spring season yard maintenance. So gear up, put your headphones on and get out there!

Speaking of gearing up- put on your best grunge clothes! While this *could* include flannel and ripped acid-wash jeans, for me, it means old hiking boots and pants that dry fast and don’t attract burrs very easily.

Next, walk around the yard and pick up any trash remaining from the snow melting off. Our office is located on a busy street, so there is lots of trash to be picked up and recycled, if possible.

Pick up all the sticks in your yard, especially if you plan to mow it soon. I use a reel mower at home, and sticks are NO GOOD for reel mowers. Most gas powered mowers can handle a few smaller sticks, but big branches and broken bits from the winter weather have to be hauled off.

Sticks and branches make great wildlife habitat when piled in an unassuming corner of the yard! If you already have rabbittat or brush piles for critters, feel free to add the fallen branches to them, and spruce the pile up.

If you’re going to mow, mulch mowing is always recommended. By doing this, you chop up any remaining leaves, and add more nutrients from the grass clippings back into the ground as the old grass decomposes. This can often negate the need for fertilizer completely!

Now you can move onto your gardens! The office gardens feature mostly native plants and some perennial bulbs that don’t require maintenance. For native plant gardens, maintenance is incredibly simple. This is the time to cut off the old, dead plant matter that is remaining. Some if it breaks off easily, and some plant matter that is dead will need to be cut with nippers.

This is the PERFECT time to harvest any remaining seeds from coneflowers, milkweed, and other late-summer wildflowers. Below is the seed head of a purple coneflower, and the seeds after being removed.

Weeding your gardens is very important, and garlic mustard season is upon us. Try to be aware of any invasives you have in your yard and what the best time is to combat them. Garlic mustard should be pulled before it flowers. For a video of how to pull garlic mustard, click here.

If your gardens need mulch, it is recommended that you mulch now, and after your first weeding. This will help keep other invasives and weeds at bay. If you can find sustainable mulch, that is always the best course. This could be trees that your city had to remove, and then mulched and offered for free, or your local energy company may have a supply they are willing to donate from trees that have been cut to keep power lines free. There are also many options in rubber mulch and mulch made from recycled tires. Staff at Little Forks prefer cocoa mulch, sourced from the hulls of cocoa beans that are byproducts from a local chocolate factory.

To learn more about sustainable lawn care ideas and the Little Forks Conservation@Home program, click here or email afoster@littleforks.org.

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