BY APRIL HASSON For Sun-Times Media
After one of the worst winters in history, spring is here! With the excitement of warmer weather comes the task of landscaping the yard that you haven’t seen out from under the snow in months. Whether you’ve never held a spade before or you are a novice gardener, here are some tips for getting started:
• Gather refuse bags and any garden tools you have: rake, clippers, broom, etc. Don’t own a thing? Neighbors are usually willing to loan the items you need. In fact, doing yard work is one of the best ways to get friendly with your neighbors.
• Begin by trimming back any tree branches that may have shifted in the winter. Trim up any hedges, and rake up debris and leaves into bags. This step may be the least fun and take the most time, but you’ll be on your way to a great yard.
• Next, start removing weeds. As my landscaper friend would say: “Weeds are in the eye of the beholder.” So feel free to remove plants that simply don’t fit — especially invasive ones such as ivy that take over a large area.
• If you have grass, patch bare spots with grass seed and apply a good turf fertilizer to energize the health of your lawn.
• When the risk of frost has passed, add colorful plants. Check out your local nursery or farmers market for ideas. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Just be sure to check that you’ll have the right amount of sun and shade that each plant needs. Get varying heights to add dimension.
• Consider adding a brick path or points of interest. Even the smallest patch of a yard can benefit from a birdbath. Alternatively, utilize bricks and pebbles to incorporate texture. Invite your children or neighborhood kids to paint positive phrases or designs on large stones.
• Finally, think about adding some light. Your yard will not only be safer but also you will be able to enjoy it later into summer evenings. Hardware stores carry low-voltage light kits or try solar powered path lights. Space and budget permitting, a fire pit or heat lamp is always a nice touch as well.
While landscaping does require sweat equity, it can be a pleasant way to meet neighbors and be on the way to enjoying your yard all season. Don’t worry if you’re not a master gardener. Hardware stores and nurseries are happy to answer your questions. Have a wonderful spring!