I don’t want to jinx us, but I think spring is finally here! Don’t get me wrong – the winter is fun and all, but it’s April and it’s time to get on with it. Spring means grilling, running, hiking, biking, swimming (if you’re brave), and most importantly, yard work! Okay, maybe yard work isn’t the most important thing, but for those of us that take pride in our yards and outdoor spaces, the time is just about perfect for us to rip the sleeves off our t-shirts and get our hands dirty.
As we roll into mid-April and the weather gets warmer, it will be time to start fertilizing, mowing, digging, planting, watering and mulching. While we’re not quite there yet, it’s never too early to be prepared to get the work done. The question is, where do you start? Let’s take the opportunity to walk through some tips that will help you get ready to get dirty.
Plan your work
The best thing to do before starting springtime yard work is to figure out what you want to accomplish. Maybe you just want to make your grass nice and green or maybe you want a new walkway that looks like an open-concept covered bridge covered in blueberries, which would be awesome. Either way, having a fully-developed plan is essential for identifying the equipment and materials you need and how much money you need to be prepared to spend.
Now that you know what you’re doing, you’ve got to do an equipment assessment. Some jobs might not require much more than a rake and seed-spreader, while others will require a plate compactor, mitre saw, mower, or even a bobcat. Whatever you’re using, you always want to make sure that it’s in good working condition, especially if it’s something like a mower (sharp blade, a full gas tank, oil, etc.). Check the handles of rakes and shovels to make sure they don’t snap mid-use. If you’re renting equipment, make sure you know how to use it, and make sure you return it the way you picked it up so you don’t get charged extra.
How much stuff (grass seed, mulch, fertilizer, pavers, etc.) do I need?
This is a common question that weekend yard warriors like myself often need to answer. Thankfully, most materials of this sort, whether sold in bags or in bulk, have easily accessible information about how large an area they cover based on a few depth values (it’s on the bag, or the dealer selling it can tell you). This means for materials like mulch, all you need to do is measure the square footage of your work area and the depth of coverage. If it’s grass seed or fertilizer, determine your square footage and check the recommendations on the bag for seed-spreader settings. In the case of pavers or bricks, go for square footage, but pay attention to how much material they require underneath.
When to do projects like seeding, fertilizing, and planting depends a lot on which hardiness zone you’re in. Here in New Hampshire, we fall somewhere between hardiness zones 3b and 6a (for more information on hardiness zones, visit the USDA). Hardiness zones are based on temperature. Generally, it’s a good idea to wait until temperatures get above (and stay above) freezing. Other projects like walkways, patios, or pergolas are more flexible but plan accordingly. Laying pavers in August can be brutally hot, where doing the same work in May can be downright pleasant.
Hopefully, you find these tips helpful as you begin to think about your yard work this spring. Whatever you plan to do this spring, just make sure you work safely and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Completed small projects look much better than half-completed large projects. The idea is to make your outdoor space one that makes you want to be outside!