Spring is almost here (thank goodness), so we decided to compile some helpful information for you to prepare your landscaping for the upcoming season change!
Spring is the ideal time to prune most of your plants and trees. It is not always necessary, however, so take a good look at your yard before you start snipping!
- Never prune more than 25% of a tree or shrub.
- Ornamental grasses that you have left tall through the Winter will need to be cut down to make room for the new growth. Prune back 8” from the base and make sure you fan out the dried blades with a rake or your hands to make space for the new grass.
- Early bloomers do not get pruned in Spring! Keep the clippers away from shrubs like lilacs, nanking cherry, quince, viburnum, honeysuckle, peashrub and weigela. You can always thin out what you need to, but these plants prefer to be pruned in late Spring-Summer right after they are done blooming.
- Structural pruning of young shade trees is typically done in late winter, before trees break dormancy. (Link 612 & 613)
For more amazing pruning advice, check out these links from Colorado State University Extension:
Some easy maintenance a homeowner can do to help protect against insect damage in the warmer months is to use a preventative drench in the roots of their plants. A product we like to recommend is “Fertilome Tree and Shrub Drench”. You should use the product in the early Spring, before your plants come out of dormancy, so that the plants absorb the product systemically as they pull their stored nutrients from their roots.
Fire Blight Warnings and Prevention
It will not be possible to spot warning signs of fire blight while your plants are dormant but keeping it in mind early in the season will be valuable in the upcoming months.
- Wait until your plants are blooming before spraying them with your choice of fire blight spray.
- Avoid over-fertilization.
- Quickly prune out branches showing signs of canker, blackening or “Shepard’s crook” (use a disinfectant on your pruners AND the branches between each cut to prevent spreading).
For more advice on the subject, visit these links from Colorado State University Extension and Purdue Extension:
Plants that Sleep-In
Before you go and dig out any shrubs, remember that some plants wake up much later from dormancy than others. A few of these are Butterfly Bush, Hydrangea, Peony, and Blue Mist/Dark Knight Spirea. Some will even die back completely to the ground each year. Be patient and make sure they are receiving a normal amount of water! They are just a little bit lazier than their fellow shrubs!
Water-wise rules help us all to responsibly use a limited resource. After all, we’re a growing community in a semi-arid climate. You can maintain a vibrant, healthy landscape with responsible watering practices.
We support using water wisely across our region, state and community. We’re committed to working together to account for shrinking water supplies, climate variability and a booming population.
Follow the water-wise rules to responsibly and efficiently use water for the benefit of our community, neighbors and our rivers.
6 Key Water-wise Rules
- You may water up to three days a week (Sunday to Saturday). You choose the days.
- From May 1 to Oct. 15, water before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to reduce evaporation.
- Don’t let water pool on hard surfaces or flow down gutters.
- Repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days.
- Use a shut-off nozzle when washing anything with a hose.
- Clean hard surfaces (such as driveways, sidewalks and patios) with water only if there is a public health and safety concern.
Water wise rules support the wise use of water in our community. Efficient water use today helps us ensure a reliable supply for the future. These tips will help you keep your lawn healthy while following the water-wise rules.
Seasonal tips for Spring irrigation
- Start up your sprinkler system when freeze danger has passed (usually Mother’s Day).
- Water one time per week.
- Schedule pop-ups for 20 minutes, rotors 45 minutes, multi-stream nozzles 60 minutes each watering day. These recommendations are starting points; adjust up or down as needed.
- When you start up your system, check for leaks, broken sprinklers and misaligned nozzles. Make any needed repairs.
- Not interested in adjusting your sprinkler system monthly? Consider installing a smart controller (rebate may be available).
To gather more information around why these regulations and rules are being followed, or tips and tools for your home or business, please visit www.csu.org/waterwiserules.
Violation of these rules will result in; firstly, a letter and informational class on the rules above, but perpetual violations will show up as a $1000 ($500/commercial) charge on your water/utilities statement.
If you decide to run your irrigation system on warm days, it is good to keep in mind that we are still in the winter months and that it will be necessary to drain the system with any temperatures dipping below 30 degrees. A good rule of thumb for irrigation is to have the system running by Mother’s Day.
New Sod Care
After the day of installation, your new lawn will be receiving a lot of water. If your sod was installed by Sunflower Landscapes, this is the watering plan we follow (varying only in length during hotter/cooler months).
For the first 6 weeks, water will be applied 3 times daily (6am – 12pm – 7pm). This timeframe is known as the Establishment Period. This amount of water will completely saturate the targeted area and it is very important that there is no foot traffic (including pets) in the area during this establishment period. Safeguarding this space will prevent any unwanted holes or divots in the yard and ensure that the yard is flat and consistent for future activities.
The first mow will occur between week 2-3 of the establishment period. To tell if the grass is rooted enough to be walked on, gently grab a handful of grass (12-18” from the edge of the lawn) and lift straight up. If you are unable to lift the area, you are ready to mow. If you feel the grass lift from the soil below, it’s best to wait 3-4 days and retest in a different area.
- Once you’ve identified that it’s time to mow, we need to allow the area to dry out before putting the weight of ourselves and the lawn mower on the yard. This can be done by locating your irrigation controller and switching the dial to the “OFF” position (one click left of upright). This needs to be done at least 24 hours in advance of mowing, but 36 hours is preferred.
- To mow, set your mower cutting height at the highest setting and attach the bag feature to prevent clippings from returning to the yard. Keep in mind that you may have to mow the yard twice as the grass will be long in length, but DO NOT exceed twice for the initial cut. It is best practice to alternate the direction of mowing for each time over. Avoid mowing during the heat of the day (10am-3pm) to minimize the stress created by this procedure.
- Once you have finished mowing, immediately return to the irrigation controller and adjust the dial to the upright, “RUN” position. After you have mowed for the first time, continue to keep traffic off of the area.
After the first 6 weeks, please reach out to Sunflower Landscapes and we can come by to assist in adjusting the controller to our recommended settings for sustainable, year-round coverage. At this point, mowing can be done weekly or as needed. Depending on the temperatures at the end of the 6-week establishment period, your lawn is likely to show some heat stress (yellowing) moving forward. This is due to the significant reduction in the amount of water being applied but in compliance with Colorado Springs Water-Wise Regulations (more information at https://www.csu.org/Pages/WaterWiseRules.aspx). During this time, don’t be afraid to drag out the hose and give your lawn some extra water. Please refer to the Green Belt Turf form for the best fertilization schedule for your type of sod. Sunflower uses Green Belt for both the Kentucky Bluegrass and Survivalist Blend (fescue) grass.
Existing Lawn Care
If you didn’t aerate in the fall, early spring (late-March to early-May) is a good time to get that done. Aeration will open up the soil allowing moisture to penetrate deeper, roots to spread further, and the yard itself to soften. This will encourage healthy new growth. The recommended application in the spring is a “weed and feed”. Personally, we prefer Scott’s brand for bluegrass varieties.
It’s always good practice to rake the yard before the season starts. Winter snows have a tendency to “mat” the grass blades down. This results in dead blades below the surface that prevent sunlight and water from reaching the soil. Raking will encourage decomposition and appropriate wet/dry cycling for the yard.
Before you get the mower out of storage, it can be beneficial to remember that your grass is still in a dormant state. It’s best to let the grass receive the needed water and sunlight for a few weeks (even a month) before working a routine of regular mowing.
In the meantime, service your mower.
Beginning Season Lawnmower Maintenance
- Check your user’s manual for specific ‘how to’ info.
- Remove and replace the old spark plug.
- Uncover the engine or dust it off with an air compressor, and clean any accumulated gunk and packed grass clippings from the mower deck and engine parts.
- If you didn’t drain the gas in the tank after the last mowing in fall, drain it now. Leave the tank empty so you can tip the mower on its side to service the mower blade.
- Disconnect the spark plug. Remove the blade for sharpening. Re-install it, or install a new sharp blade.
- Replace the fuel filter, clean or replace the air filter.
- Drain last year’s oil from the crankcase (in 4-cycle engines) and refill with fresh oil.
- Fill the gas tank with fresh gasoline (oil and gas mix if it is a 2-cycle engine).
- Reconnect the new spark plug.