If cooler weather has you longing for sunny days outdoors, take heart. Once spring rolls around, you can safely begin the annual cleanup to prepare your yard for months of warm-weather enjoyment. Start by evaluating your lawn with these tips.
Spring into Lawn and Garden Care
(Family Features) If cooler weather has you longing for sunny days outdoors, take heart. Once spring rolls around, you can safely begin the annual cleanup to prepare your yard for months of warm-weather enjoyment.
Start by evaluating your lawn. Look for bald spots where grass has grown sparsely and needs reseeding, or uneven areas that may need to be filled and leveled.
Before you take steps to correct any problems, you’ll need a clean slate. Clear the yard of any leaves, rocks or sticks that may have accumulated then cut the grass as short as you can. Use a thatching rake to remove dead roots and grass. Break up the soil in bare spots to create an environment that will be hospitable to new seed. Add lawn soil to level the surface.
You’ll also need to apply an herbicide to treat weed-infested areas. Allow the weed killer to work for about a week then rake again to remove dead weeds.
Then you’re ready to over-seed or spot seed, depending on your lawn’s needs. Your climate will determine the best grass variety for your yard. Be sure to select and apply a fertilizer that is consistent with your grass type and water thoroughly to promote deep root growth, which can help your lawn withstand extreme conditions as temperatures rise.
Your lawn isn’t the only part of your yard that needs attention during the spring months, though. Your garden and flower beds may need some care before they, too, are ready to burst with new bounty and color.
Begin by clearing your garden and beds of any debris like leaves and other matter that piled up during months of neglect. Gently turn the soil and work in fresh fertilizer.
Before your plants and flowers are in full-growth mode is the ideal time to make repairs. Check edging for any damage, replace rotted woodwork and complete any other maintenance tasks.
As for the plants, prune before the first buds sprout to minimize stress. You can also start indoor seeds, and early spring is the time to divide perennials and plant some hardier vegetables, such as onions and potatoes.
The warmer months may still seem far away, but getting some of your lawn and garden care underway now can make those warmer, sunny days feel closer in no time. Find more seasonal tips for prepping your yard at eLivingToday.com.
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Every year, monarch butterflies embark on a 3,000-mile migration across North America. This feat of endurance lasts eight months, spans three countries and captivates people worldwide. Establishing your own milkweed habitat is a great way to get involved and make an impact on the continued reign of the monarch butterfly.
The annual monarch butterfly journey
(Family Features) Every year, monarch butterflies embark on a 3,000-mile migration across North America. This feat of endurance lasts eight months, spans three countries and captivates people worldwide.
These graceful pollinators rely on milkweed for feeding and reproduction, but over the last decade, a reduction of milkweed habitats has occurred along the butterflies’ flight path. The decline of any species can be a threat to natural diversity.
When the weather starts to warm each year, monarchs make their way north from Mexico to begin breeding. Upon arriving in Texas, the butterflies begin to lay eggs on milkweed. Milkweed is the sole food source for monarch larvae, more commonly known as caterpillars. As milkweed plantings have diminished, so has the monarch population.
Environmentalists and butterfly lovers have taken notice of the monarchs’ dwindling numbers. BASF, a company that serves farmers and agricultural customers, launched Living Acres in 2015. Living Acres is a research initiative designed to help farmers establish milkweed beds in non-cropland areas.
“The goal is to raise awareness about the important role milkweed plays in the monarch life cycle,” said Laura Vance, biology team lead, BASF. “We also want to make milkweed planting easier by researching the most efficient ways to raise it and then offer that knowledge to growers nationwide.”
Farmers and landowners can play an important role in helping increase monarch populations simply by starting a milkweed garden. With employee-tended monarch gardens, BASF is also sustaining butterflies at its manufacturing sites. The gardens are tended to ensure the milkweed is healthy and ready for the arrival of monarchs.
As summer approaches, caterpillars begin their metamorphoses, hatching and transforming into vivid orange and black butterflies.
“If you have milkweed planted somewhere in your yard, be sure to keep an eye out for those mesmerizing monarchs,” Vance said. “You just never know when one might flutter by.”
Once mature, the monarchs continue their journey northward, passing over cool valleys and prairieland. Monarchs look for resting places in open plains, often settling in beds of milkweed. Prime milkweed habitats include areas alongside cornfields, gardens, playgrounds and rural roadsides.
Some of the most popular flight paths include the Corn Belt and Interstate 35, a corridor that runs from Texas to Minnesota. Legislators implemented a federal plan to create habitable space along highways for monarchs by planting milkweed in ditches. This initiative offers food and shelter for weary butterflies and provides nursery sites for monarch eggs.
Monarchs then begin winging their way south to the oyamel fir forests of Mexico. They spend their winters there, crowded together on the tree branches for warmth, which can appear to transform the trees into blazing orange clouds. When warm weather returns the following year, monarchs resume their migration northward and continue the cycle of breeding the next monarch generation.
Establishing your own milkweed habitat is a great way to get involved and make an impact on the continued reign of the monarch butterfly. For planting tips, visit Living Acres at Facebook.com/BASFLivingAcres.
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Winter conditions can present a wide range of challenges to your lawn and landscape, but there are precautions you can take to protect your lawn, as well as your trees and shrubs, from seasonal harm. These preventative steps can help your lawn survive the winter season’s harsh elements, including snow plow damage, cold temperature stress, freezing temperatures, winter dehydration and ice melt.
Dodge Winter Lawn Damage
(Family Features) Winter conditions can present a wide range of challenges to your lawn and landscape, but there are precautions you can take to protect your lawn, as well as your trees and shrubs, from seasonal harm.
Preventive steps from the lawncare experts at TruGreen can help your lawn survive the winter season’s harsh elements.
Snow Plow Damage
Cold Temperature Stress
Keep twigs and limbs from breaking under the weight of ice by carefully brushing away, whenever possible, any snow load from plants, which will reduce the weight on the limbs and decrease the damage. Placing a burlap cover around shrubs such as boxwood and yews will help reduce winter desiccation.
Find more advice to help prep your lawn for winter at TruGreen.com.
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While outdoor living season may be winding down, there’s no better time to start planning your dream deck. These 5 quick tips make creating your outdoor oasis exciting and easy.
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