|Posted by Diana Hartman on April 29, 2015 at 11:55 AM|
It's so important for our mind, body and spirit to step outdoors and breathe that fresh, crisp, clean Montana air in Spring! Let's talk about getting out there and accomplishing some Spring cleaning of your own personal piece of Montana.
First, I hope you had a little fun considering the idea of functional art within your landscape from my last post. I took the idea and created a wall which will define our barbecue space on our deck and provide privacy while in the hot tub. I was able to add a touch of art and design (and save $$$) by building it with slats from our old patio table, left over corrugated metal and clippings pruned from my mom's friend's large Willow trees. Currently, I am searching for artistic ideas to add a unique touch to the paver patio we will be building to remedy our mud problem and to provide a space to relax with friends (the patio's functions). I would love to see any projects utilizing both function and design that you may have completed.
Speaking of mud problems...this time of year brings us to our Spring cleaning. One of those daunting tasks, for me anyway. It can be overwhelming to begin, but once completed will leave you with a feeling of accomplishment and "ahhhhh..." when you enter that freshly cleaned, reinvented space. The feeling you receive when you walk into a room that was recently grimacing at you with unorganized chaos and now smiles at you with bright, refreshing promise is your reward! My kids rooms are perfect examples as we tackled them over the past drizzly weekend. Clutter and chaos and, yes, dirt (it's tough to clean when you can barely find the floor) were cleaned and reorganized. The furniture was rearranged and rooms were reinvented. I no longer close my eyes and shut their doors...I peer in to view the bright, delightful, playful rooms my kids live in...at least for a few weeks, right?
Now, let us create that feeling within ourselves as we drive up to our property and as we step out our doors into our outdoor space. The rain cleans the earth, but we may need to help out a little as well. Where do we start? Don't worry! I've made a list.
Where do we start? Don't worry! I've made a list.
1. Clean it out. Clean out all of the debris (natural and otherwise). Clean out any litter, pet feces, dead leaves and plants, pinecones, etc. Get out your rake and gloves and work off some stress, or chocolate brownies, or whatever! This debris can smother your plants and foster disease. Enough said.
2. Prune your perennials. Remove dead stalks from perennials and cut back your ornamental grasses. Divide any perennials that are spreading or crowding and move to new locations or share with friends and neighbors. For great information regarding how and when to prune perennials, please visit this site: http://gardening.about.com/od/maintenance/a/Spring_Pruning.htm They have included a list of what to prune in Spring and what to prune in the Fall as well.
3. Weed your beds. Once the beds are cleaned out, annuals removed and perennials pruned, let's get rid of any sprouting weeds. Pro-active weeding makes this an easy task. In the Spring, soil is damp, weeds are small and they don't put up much of a fight. Be sure you don't throw your weeds into your compost.
4. Freshen your beds. Think dirt. Once your bed is clear, let's think about the soil. You can test your soil for nutrient and contamination content, PH level and acidity to determine your expected rate of growth. However, the cure for most all of these soil issues is compost. For the average gardener, I suggest just mixing in a bit of compost (nature's own slow-release fertilizer) or a complete slow-release organic fertilizer. Feed the soil and it will feed your plants! Earthworms and other soil dwelling insects will also feed, aerate and contribute more organic matter with their waste and decomposition creating healthy soil! Pesticides and synthetic fertilizers can kill these residents of your soil with chemicals and added salt which will harm your soil's fertility. This will create a constant need for adding nutrients to your soil that it would otherwise naturally maintain. You can find more great information on this topic at: http://gardening.about.com/od/soil/a/GardenSoil.htm
5. Add something new? Maybe you would like to add new beds. Gardening is very addicting once you begin. I rarely plant in the Spring without first adding at least one new bed to my landscape. More veggies and fruits? Definitely! Have fun with this one! I'm keeping it simple this year, because keeping it easy helps retain the fun. I found a treasure...a couple of used metal troughs which will line my back fence line and produce a fantastic harvest of raspberries this year while also deterring my dogs from jumping on our back fence...I hope. Again, design and function! These will also help contain the raspberry plants which spread like wildfire and can take over a landscape. So, get creative and reinvent your landscape with something new!
6. Lawn and tree care. Remember your lawn and trees need care in the Spring also. Remove dead and potentially damaging material, diseased tissues and insect infestations from trees and bushes to produce healthy thriving plants by pruning them carefully. A power rake will remove thatch from your lawn as these layers of dead grass prevent fertilizer and water from reaching grass roots and new grass from sprouting and aerating allows oxygen, nutrients and water to reach grass roots by removing plugs from dense soil that provides the bed for your lawn. Aeration promotes green, healthy growth! Prepare areas of your lawn that are damaged from snow plows, dogs, etc. for seeding. Clean these areas out and work in compost to keep the seed moist and speed the germination rate. Then seed.
7. Planting...the fun part! I know it's difficult, especially this Spring as it's been so beautiful, but try to wait until Memorial Day weekend. Start planning now though! No matter what you are planting, be sure you have chosen the perfect home. Think about soil and light and growth height, as well as color and design. If you are choosing to plant edibles, I would like to refer you to previous posts on companion planting and edible landscaping...my personal passion. Take great care once you are ready to plant. Some tips are found at this site: http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/secrets-successful-planting
8. Clean off hardscapes. Power wash, sweep and rake all hardscape surfaces pushing sand and gravel back into place and cleaning off mud and debris. Make any repairs to hardscape surfaces damaged throughout the winter.
9. Finishing touches! Mulching and edging. Top off your beds with a mulch of your choice. Mulch will aid in conserving water, keeping plant roots cool, feeding soil, smothering weeds and more. It also adds an elegant, finished look to your beds. Be sure to let the soil warm up and dry out a bit before adding your layer of mulch. Do not underestimate the power of a clean, crisp edge to finish a bed in a polished and spectacular way! You can edge with metal, plastic edging, wood borders, concrete, rock or a combination of these materials to create a unique style. Again, have fun and be creative with your edging to add a touch of art to your landscape!
I realize this is quite a list and can seem overwhelming.
Of course, we're here to help out with whatever assistance you may need in accomplishing this To Do list. Give us a call if you need help developing that "Ahhhhhh..." feeling! Remember that it's really so important for our mind, body and spirit to step outdoors and breathe that fresh, crisp, clean Montana air in Spring!
Don't let a little Spring cleaning stand in your way! Once it's completed, go...and come home again! Step into that clean, refreshed landscape! Your piece of Montana, reinvented, will be looking forward to Summer and all it has in store for itself and you!