Summer is coming … though it may seem a little hard to believe after an exceptionally cold winter! Take the time to get your yard in shape so you’ll be ready for the hot weather as it approaches.

Prepare your soil

Aerating soilBegin with a soil test. The quality of soil tends to change over the years; normally the earth becomes increasingly acidic the more it is planted. Your test results will enable you to make informed decisions about how and what to fertilize and plant.

Spring is the best time to fertilize. You will be replacing nutrients in the earth that were depleted by harsh winter weather and preparing your lawn and garden for healthy, abundant growth. Don’t wait until the summer months, as fertilizer can actually harm green growth during periods of intense heat.

Aeration is an additional method of soil preparation. This mechanical process loosens soil which has become compacted with the pressure of winter snow, so that water and fertilizer will be able to penetrate optimally.

Prepare your lawn

Weeding lawnSowing or turfing your lawn works best in the autumn. However, if you can’t wait, take care of this task ASAP to give the grass a head start before the summer heat. Prepare the ground first by removing weeds, tilling and mixing in sand if your soil has high clay content.

Whether your lawn is newly planted or well established, it is important to water it deeply so that the moisture will reach right down to the grass’s roots. Early evening is the ideal time.

Watering

Watering canIf you’re planning a vegetable garden, decide how committed you feel to watering. Space-saving container and vertical gardens are very popular this year, but they do require more frequent irrigation than the traditional method. This is a particular concern in areas where local conservation ordinances limit watering.

To reduce the amount of time and water you’ll need to keep your plants moist and healthy, mulching is a very viable option. Cover the base of plants with organic material such as grass clippings or shredded leaves to help keep moisture in the soil.

Care for your yard

Lawn pathPut up a fence to protect your yard from rambunctious neighborhood pets and kids, especially during the dog days of summer, when your lawn will be especially vulnerable to damage.

To avoid trampling of your lawn or garden by your own family and guests, you might want to build a path which will direct traffic off of green areas. Tiling or graveling a dedicated outdoor dining area will have the additional advantage that you won’t have to move your picnic table or other lawn furniture each time you want to cut the grass. And remember: Check your lawn mower to see if it will need a tune-up after its winter hibernation.

Laura Firszt originally wrote this story for Networx.com. It has been republished with permission here.

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Click for photo credits

Photo credits:

Aerating soil: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Weeding lawn: Rob Bayer/Shutterstock

Watering can: Matthew Benoit/Shutterstock

Yard path: fotomine/Shutterstock