Your refresher on MN lawn care
It’s widely known that Minnesotans enter into a kind of conscious amnesia every winter. We choose to forget about spring and summer, playing ball on the lawn, barbecueing on the patio, watching the flowers grow. It’s a coping mechanism to get through the snowdrifts, subzero temperatures, and chronically chapped lips.
The problem is when spring finally does arrive, we walk around like toddlers just waking up from a nap. We bump into trees. We trip over hoses. We wonder where the garden tools wound up last fall.
That’s why we thought a little refresher course on MN lawn care and lawn and garden chores might come in handy right about now.
- Can I turn on my sprinkler/irrigation system now?
Yes. (That was easy, wasn’t it?) The ground has thawed and temps during the day are warm enough to water. Just be aware that nights can still be cool, so it wouldn’t hurt to wrap a towel around the backflow valve if the thermometer is going to dip down into the 30s. (BONUS: It’s definitely worth your time and your investment to ask a pro for a spring irrigation start up to check and set timers, adjust settings, and ensure that sprinkler heads and system parts are working correctly.)
- Can I mulch now?
Yes, now is a good time to mulch because your perennials haven’t come up yet and you don’t have to worry about working around your plants. Mulch away!!!
- Can I rake now?
Yes and no. It’s okay to lightly rake away dead leaves and dead grass from your lawn now. Just make sure before you do, that the grass isn’t too wet or you’ll tear out tender plants that are just coming up. As for your garden, leave mulch or leaves that you put down last fall on your flower beds for now. This will help keep moisture in and the beds warm while overnight temperatures are still cool.
- When should I dethatch?
Now is the perfect time to get dead grass out, leaving room for healthy grass plants to breathe and grow. It also allows fertilizer to get to the root structure.
- Can I prune trees and bushes now?
Not if you want them to bloom. Pruning after buds have appeared will stunt the growth of your tree or bush. It’s better to wait until summer after they’ve fully bloomed. But the very best time to prune is in January when zero percent of us wants to be out in the yard on a ladder pruning trees.
- What can I do about snow mold?
At this point, it’s more of a cosmetic issue and is only affecting the grass blade for the time being. Fertilizer helps by encouraging new growth. Gently raking the area will remove dead grass along with the fungus, allowing air to circulate and helping the grass to recover. To avoid snow mold next season, be sure all your leaves are raked up off your lawn and disposed of properly in the fall.
- What can I do about voles?
Run! Run shrieking into the night. Okay. That’s probably not helpful. Voles are disgusting little critters who LOVE your lawn and will eat up all your gorgeous grass if you let them. Getting rid of them can be something of a chore. We never recommend poisons for vole extermination since they can be extremely toxic to children, pets, and garden vegetation and flowers. You can use traps, vole repellents such as Shotgun Deer, Rabbit Repellent or predator urine (such as fox or coyote) or garden fencing. Try to keep ground cover (creeping junipers, deep piles of mulch applied too close to trees and shrubs) to a minimum as they prefer these for nest building and shelter.
Hope that helps! We think we covered at least some of the most important things you may have forgotten over the winter. (BTW, there might be a quiz on this blog post next week. You’d best study the material closely, just in case.)