Tompkins Weekly Staff
Lawns and gardens can bear the brunt of winter weather and are often in need of tender loving care by the time spring arrives.
Preparing a garden for spring and summer involves assessing any damage that harsh weather might have caused. As temperatures climb, gardeners can heed the following post-winter garden preparation tips in an effort to ensure some successful gardening in the months ahead.
“One of the concepts we use is ‘Worst First,’” said Gerry Towne of Cayuga Landscape, located in Ithaca. “The idea is to focus on the areas you’re going to see as you walk into the house or can see from the road, to get those areas really well cleaned up before spending energy on projects in the back 40.
“For homeowners, they should do things in a timely enough fashion, such as cutting back ornamental grasses and perennials,” he added. “You have to remove the dead material before the plants start growing again.”
Towne said the right time to do that is coming up, with a mid-April timeframe for perennials and the end of April or early May suggested for ornamental grasses.
“You typically want to do it while they’re still dormant,” he said.
Dan Hranek of Greater Ithaca Landscaping, located in Lansing, had a simple piece of advice about spring cleanup.
“Start it as soon as the snow melts,” he said.
Even if winter was mild, gardens might still have suffered some damage. Garden beds and surrounding landscapes that survived winter without being damaged might still be littered with debris.
“You want to get off any of the debris, leaves,” said Reenie Sandsted of Baker’s Acres of North Lansing. “Some people like to mulch with the leaves – if you do, you have to get it off or it will mold your plants.
“In the spring, we just clean up broken branches that have fallen,” she added. “Anyone who didn’t cut their plants back in the fall, they will definitely need to cut them back in the spring; shrubs you don’t do much with at all, you just let them do their thing.”
Cleaning up is the name of the game for Hranek.
“Most of my work is landscaping maintenance, so it depends on the season,” he said. “Lots of lawn mowing, hedge trimming, spring and fall clean ups.”
Both Standsted and Towne are finding low maintenance plantings are a popular outdoor trend.
“That means using plants, trees, shrubs that don’t take a lot of fussing with,” Standsted said. “You don’t have to trim them back as much and they spread fast, so weeds can’t come up.
“But, also, native plants have become very popular,” she added. “I would say the biggest trend is using plants to attract bees or butterflies because of the issues with bees and butterflies.”
Animal resistant plantings have been a popular draw, Towne said.
“Deer resistant, compact shrubs are really popular, and deer resistant bulbs,” he said. “People are looking to have a one-time installation, something that’s not a lot of extra work. People are not wanting to wait, they want it to look good now.”
Inside the house, there are plenty of fresh ideas to consider when thinking about home improvement projects. One, from a Forbes piece, notes that kitchen space is being redefined with a change to storage – instead of endless cabinets, new designs are finding ways to put all the needed storage space on one wall, creating a more open feel.
Laundry room revamps also are on the new to-do list. As cited in Forbes, “the 2016 Houzz & Home Report” offered information that “people remodeling their laundry rooms of 150 square feet or more will spend an average of $2,700.” Work on entryways is seeing average spending of $2,500.
Technology will also continue to be a big focus, with smart home technology increasing by leaps and bounds. According to IHS Markit, 2016 saw a 64 percent increase in smart home device deliveries with 80 million delivered during the year.