“Yardening” — Spring is Soon Upon Us
Spring – Seasonal Safety
It’s that time of year again. Spring is Soon Upon Us!
Is it true that bringing out the power tools is the (stereotypical) masculine cure for spring fever?
These days it is highly likely you will see both men and women out in their yards mowing the lawn or blowing leaves off the grass. After all, power tools make yard care easier than ever, empowering everyone.
What hasn’t changed are the basic rules to assure the tools are used safely. Each has its particular manufacturer’s instructions which you must read every year to refresh your memory. Then there are the general rules:
- Wear appropriate, snug fitting clothes, sturdy shoes, gloves, safety glasses, and ear protection.
- Do not ever remove safety features from mowers and chainsaws.
- Keep blades clean and sharp, remove any dirt or oil from handles.
- Store tools out of reach of kids.
- If you have corded electric tools, check their cords for damage each use, do not let the cords get wet, do not use them when it is raining.
- Also, pull the plug itself from the outlet, unplug when not in use, coil the cords to store and make sure outdoor outlets have ground fault circuit interrupters.
Well, they made it through the winter, but some shrubs look pretty ratty. Some have outgrown their allotted space, or have been damaged by snow and ice. Others just droop as they age. Some may shape up well with just light ornamental pruning, but others really need serious cutting back, or “rejuvenation pruning”, to restore them.
The trick is knowing which shrubs can’t handle this major cut back so you do not inadvertently kill them. Some common shrubs that cannot tolerate rejuvenation pruning are: azalea, boxwood, winterberry holly, mountain laurel, pieris, pyracantha, flowering quince, smoketree and doublefile viburum.
When in doubt, ask Google about your droopy shrub for pruning guidance.
No matter how we (or our lawn service) tries, we can never completely eradicate crabgrass. Unless, of course, we eliminate our lawns. So if you must have a lawn, the advent of a new season is time to take on the challenge again.
The best time to launch an offensive is in the fall, but there are still some things you can do in spring to fight the good fight.
Pre-emergent chemical control will help. The idea is to kill the seeds from last year’s invasion before they germinate. While dry weather may prevent the herbicide from effectiveness because the seeds are not moist, rainy weather may wash off the herbicide before it can affect the seeds. But, you may be lucky.
Check pre-emergent products at the garden center, hardware store, or box store. There are also products to apply to crabgrass plants that have already emerged. While you are at it, check out organic, non-chemical solutions to your crabgrass situation.
When I was growing up, if anyone spoke about wildlife habitat at all, they were probably referring to public parks, remote mountains and coastal areas. Homeowners rarely thought of their own property as wildlife habitat. We need to now.
Birds, especially, are depending on our yards to support them. One out of every 4 birds has disappeared in the last 50 years, mainly because of loss of their traditional habitat. Those who migrate find their stop-off places destroyed by fire, drought, tree diseases and development. Those who winter over here have trouble finding sheltering trees and plots of familiar grasses and shrubs that they depend on for food and shelter.
Here at Creek House we have planted lots of native plants, especially out in the wetland part of our yard. If your property has these, plus a source of water, your yard might qualify as a Certified Wildlife Habitat authorized by the National Wildlife Federation. To learn more, visit Wild Birds Unlimited.
“The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself”.
Quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt
Post contributed by:
Liz Ball is a horticultural writer, photographer, researcher, and teacher whose articles and photographs have appeared in numerous catalogs, magazines, and books. She has authored or co-authored several books, including the Pennsylvania Gardener’s Guide. Now retired, she continues to write a newspaper column called Yardening which has appeared in her local newspapers for more than 24 years.
Liz focuses on issues that concern non-gardening homeowners who have lawns and plants to care for but a limited amount of time or interest in yard care. Sharing her experiences in her two-acre yard at Creek House, and her deep commitment to the environmental contribution that diverse plants and wildlife in home landscapes make to our collective well-being, she provides information and guidance to help homeowners improve their yards.
Liz is a member of Friends Life Care. Thank you, Liz, for sharing this great “yardening” information!
(C) Liz Ball, 2021, All Rights Reserved.
Photo of woman in flowerbed: https://www.twenty20.com/photos/49027c7f-9272-49a9-bdb0-2492abb77602/?utm_t20_channel=bl
Eastern bluebird: https://www.twenty20.com/photos/10a5bdec-36ba-4e24-841c-536c00348207/?utm_t20_channel=bl
Graphic of Certified Wildlife Habitat: https://www.nwf.org/certify
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