MILWAUKEE – Spring is coming to Wisconsin, and for homeowners that means yardwork. Homeowners can avoid landscaping mistakes with help from members of Milwaukee NARI, which has been promoting professionalism in the home remodeling industry and fostering consumer confidence for more than 55 years.
“Spring maintenance creates the beautiful yard you want with less summer care,” said Heidi Sommer of Wandsnider Landscape in Menomonee Falls. Milwaukee NARI members provided 15 dos and don’ts to help homeowners get their spring yardwork done right.
* DO cut down spent perennials and remove leaf debris. “This will also remove potential diseases that may have overwintered,” said Sommer.
* DO edge planting beds with a power edger or a spade shovel. “This will give the planting bed a nice, clean, unified look, keeping grass from growing into the bed and mulch from falling out into the grass,” Sommer said.
* DON’T plant too early. According to Jeremy Santori of Bluemel’s Garden and Landscape Center in Greenfield, “Planting too early in spring may lead to plant damage. Be mindful of the overnight temperatures so that you select the proper plants.”
* DON’T rush to judgment on the survival of your hardy plants. They may be okay, even if they look like they aren’t recovering from winter. “Soil temperatures are key,” said Santori. “Your plants may need more time to leaf out, especially if we have a later or delayed spring.”
* DO use pre-emergent herbicide and fertilizer before seeds germinate. Santori said, “Once soil temperatures begin to rise, weeds will begin to germinate.”
* DO mulch planting beds with a shredded hardwood mulch. “The mulch will suppress weeds, insulate the soil, help retain moisture, reduce soil erosion, help feed plants, and aesthetically improve your landscape,” Sommer said. She recommends using an all-natural product with natural forest nutrients to help plants grow.
* DON’T prune Forsythia, Lilac, and Viburnum shrubs. Sommer said pruning them in early spring could result in removing the flower buds.
* DO prune other shrubs and most trees. Sommer said it’s easier to do before they leaf out in the spring. “It’s easier to see branching patterns and broken and diseased parts of the plant that should be removed.”
* DON’T mulch too thick. “Two to three inches is a good thickness for planting beds,” Sommer said.
* DON’T use colored mulch for perennials or groundcovers. Sommer explained, “Many colored mulches are made from construction debris. This kind of mulch can rob important nutrients form the soil that are critical for plant growth.”
* DO mulch in early spring, before the perennials pop out of the ground. Although waiting would decrease the amount of mulch used, Sommer recommends mulching early to save time, so that homeowners don’t have to mulch around the plants.
* DO use high quality soil. “Awesome plants loaded with color need awesome soil,” Sommer said. “You can improve the soil over time with regular applications of a natural mulch or leaf compost, fertilization, and aeration.”
* DO use the right fertilizer for different plants. “Rhododendrons and Azaleas are acid-loving plants that need a boost if growing in less fertile soils. A complete fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants may be applied in early spring,” Sommer said.
* DON’T rush to judgment on your yard’s drainage if water pools. “In early spring, the ground is still frozen,” Santori explained. “This leads many to believe their yard has a drainage problem due to pooling water caused by frozen ground. Allow the ground to thaw and see if the problem persists.”
* DON’T start a hardscaping project before the thaw. “Allow the frost to fully come out of the ground before beginning your project. Retaining walls and patio projects that begin before frost has been removed have a significantly higher risk for settling or failure,” Santori said.
“If you decide to have work done, it is important and to your benefit to start with a professional landscape plan,” Santori said, urging homeowners to start planning this process now. “The sooner a plan has been established, the quicker you can get work scheduled and into a construction calendar. Starting the planning process early will allow for more quality time in your newly landscaped yard.”
Milwaukee NARI is an elite association of the best home improvement and remodeling professionals and those in businesses who are affiliated with the industry. As a trusted resource homeowners know and have chosen since 1961, Milwaukee NARI has promoted ethical conduct, professionalism, sound business practices in the remodeling industry, and consumer education. Consumers can have confidence when selecting a Milwaukee NARI member for their project, as all members adhere to a code of ethics that ensures honesty, integrity and responsibility.
For more information or to receive a free copy of the annual membership directory along with the booklet, Milwaukee NARI’s Remodeling Guide, visit www.MilwaukeeNARI.org or call Milwaukee NARI at 414-771-4071.