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It’s officially springtime, which means that weeds are about to make their grand entrance into your yard if they haven’t already. Although weeds do add a bit of green, they could be seriously damaging your grass so that when they are gone, only dirt patches remain. Here are some helpful tips at fighting those pesky weeds to maintain a healthy yard.

When you see weeds sprouting in your lawn or in your garden, the first instinct is to pull them out of the ground by hand. However, if you pull the weeds out by hand their roots can remain intact and sprout new weeds. The best practice is to use a a product that both feeds your lawn, while also killing the weeds. Another product to think about using is a pre-emergent weed killer to take care of some of the pests that emerge during the summer months.

As always, maintaining healthy lawn care practices is key in protecting your yard against weeds. Making sure your lawn stays hydrated and not just on the surface level is important. At TPS Landscaping we have just started to offer irrigation systems that come with a control panel, so that ideal watering time doesn’t have to interfere with your sleep schedule. Your lawn mower blade should be set high, setting it too low to your grass will result in it dying. You can also use a fertilizer that helps to feed your grass to maintain it’s health throughout the spring and summer.

We know what you’re thinking; all the tips you’ve been receiving from us lately have assumed that the warm weather is here to stay. But this weekend in the North Carolina Mountains proved that inclement weather is never too far. Although the snow was beautiful, you might be concerned as to how you are going to salvage your garden. Some of your trees might have even seen some small blooms peaking through the buds, and you don’t want to neglect those plants you worked so hard to cultivate, but that’s why we’re here with our tips.

Although we have encouraged pruning pretty heavily in past posts, after a frost you should avoid pruning. Yes, the leaves look dead, and yes they are in fact unsalvageable, but pruning is not the answer. In the event of a frost, some leaves are sure to be affected and probably die, but that doesn’t mean that the entire plant is a lost cause. If you prune the dead leaves immediately after a frost, then you make the plant vulnerable again because if another frost hits, it will kill more of the live plant that is left. Avoid pruning until you are sure that you’re in the clear in terms of cold weather.

The second major way to repair your garden after a frost is to continue watering it. Moist soil is actually less likely to freeze than dry soil, so in a way you are protecting your plants in the event of another frost by keeping the soil around them moist. You should spray your plants in the morning after the frost to rid the plant leaves of any remaining ice crystals. Allowing the crystals to melt throughout the day can cause extra damage to your plant.

In the event of another oncoming frost, here are some tips to preemptively protect your garden.

It’s helpful to pay attention to the forecast. That might sound like a basic tip, but if you are trying to cultivate a healthy garden and are not paying attention to what your local meteorologists are saying, then you’ve surrendered your first line of defense against freezing temperatures.

Avoid planting tender plants in low-lying areas. When cold air rolls in, it stays close to the ground and hangs around in dips in your yard, so if you have fragile plants attempting to grow, try not to plant them in an especially low-lying area. Be aware of how windy it is. Cold air won’t necessarily affect your plants one way or another, but the intensity of the wind can cause damage by pulling leaves or buds off of your plants. If necessary, provide wind protection, like turning a wheelbarrow upside down to cover plants. You can also cover your plants with woven fabrics, which tend to be better insulators than plastics or paper to protect newly planted plants.

In order to ensure that your lawn is ready for the warm weather to roll in, you need to make sure you’ve pruned, weeded and cleaned out your garden appropriately.

Now is the time to clean out winter debris from your garden. Dead branches or fallen leaves, twigs or branches that may have fallen during winter weather will stifle the growth of plants trying to thrive.

Once the larger debris is removed from the plant bed, you should begin to hand weed. Typically people would like to use herbicide to kill the unwanted vegetation, but keep in mind that if you are planning to use herbicide, you have to wait until daytime temperatures are warm.

You should replenish or replace mulch in areas surrounding shrubs and trees. Mulch is important surrounding your trees and shrubs because it helps to keep weeds from growing, conserves water and improves soil texture.

Last, but not least, we revisit our topic of pruning. Wait to prune your spring flowering shrubs like Forsythia until after they’ve finished blooming.

Feeding your lawn in the early spring strengthens roots to get your lawn off to strong start. You don’t want to miss your chance for early fertilization; that is why we recommend for you to start thinking about what types of fertilizers fit your individual needs. An important fertilizer fact is what the numbers mean in the different types of fertilizer. Fertilizers will be described with three number separated by dashes, these numbers describe the percentage of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium in the fertilizer. We’ve come up with some tips on types of fertilizers to use and on what plants to make your gardening a little bit easier! 
  • Use a 10-10-10 or a high Nitrogen fertilizer on established trees and shrubs, except for Azaleas, Rhododendron and Camellias
  • Apply super Phosphate like 0-20-0 to Azaleas to encourage blooming early in the month
  • Use bone meal or a low strength fertilizer like 5-10-5 for Iris, Peony and Clematis
  • Add organic fertilizer and Black Kow to Rose beds and Wisteria vines
  • Begin spraying Roses with fungicide to prevent black spot. Follow label instructions
  • Fertilize cool season lawns early in month with slow release Nitrogen fertilizer
We’ve been discussing ways to pre-plan your garden and shrubbery as we head towards the spring, but let’s talk about your lawn practices. Your flowerbed layout and pruning your shrubs and trees is important, but the art of a well-cut lawn can make all the difference to your landscaping. We’ve collected a few lawn-mowing tips, so that you don't have to!
In a previous post we encouraged you check on your mower blade to ensure that it didn’t have any damage so that come warmer months, you were able to effectively use your mower. Since we are still in the middle of February, despite the warmer weather, it’s not too late to get your mower serviced if needed. The last thing that you want to deal with during the summer is a broken down mower while you watch your grass grow to unruly heights.

Keep your mower blades sharp to reduce chances for disease in your grass. The most common type of disease that your lawn can contract is fungus. If this isn’t treated it can spread to and kill your entire lawn. The length of your grass is also important. We recommend you keep your mowing height at 3” or higher, and when you mow, make sure you’re only removing 1/3 of the grass blade per cut. Mowing under these guidelines should help to avoid brown spots on your lawn.

Compaction is a problem that you want to try to avoid with your lawn care. We recommend changing your mowing patterns week to week to avoid the heavy traffic of the lawn mower in the same routine repeatedly. Additionally, you want to try to mow when the ground is dry. This can be difficult especially as we enter into summer because we all know that Western North Carolina summers can be pretty wet, but mowing the grass while the soil is still wet also leads to compaction. If compaction is something your lawn is struggling with, we suggest aerating. If your grass receives heavy traffic, it will best survive if aerated once or twice a year. A heavy clay soil also needs more frequent aerating. Lawns receiving light traffic or established on a sandy soil can be aerated once a year or every other year.