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It’s spring and the snow has melted.  You look around your yard and see spring garden preparationdead leaves, overgrown bushes, and a patchy lawn but you’re eager to start welcoming the warmer weather by getting your yard ready for flowers, BBQ’s and a nice lawn for the kids to play on.  Where do you start?

At Bring Me Outdoors, we know the work-life balance is important and you don’t have a lot of time on your hands.  Here are some tips on getting your yard ready for the nicer weather, while including your kids in the process.

During your yard inspection and yard work, your kids will want to help out. If you have young kids, you’ll need to keep them safe but occupied so you can get your work done. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles and a ball should keep them busy for a little while. Little kids are also great helpers in gathering sticks, so don’t let that enthusiasm go to waste.  Older kids can be given some outdoor tasks and so, they can be a more active help with yard work. If you have a baby or toddler, plan your yard inspection during their nap time, and carry the baby monitor with you.

The first place to start is in the garage and shed. Inspect your hand pruners, sheers, loppers, spades and shovels. Remove dirt and debris and use a file to sharpen the blades. Take an inventory of grass seed, fertilizers, nutrients, minerals and chemicals that you use. Also inspect your garden hose, fittings and nozzles for cracks, threading damage and look for cracks in the washers.

After the garage check, walk through your yard, taking note of dead leaves and winter debris that need to be cleared; also note trees and shrubs that need pruning. If you are unsure as to how to prune your tree, shrub or rose bush, you can search for articles and videos on the internet, or visit a gardening expert at your local garden center.  Inspect your lawn, looking for dead patches and bumpy or uneven parts.

Your garage and yard check can take as little time as you have.

The next step is to go to the store and buy more grass seed for your dead patches, and replenish your fertilizer and chemicals stock. Also replace old, rusty or broken gardening tools. Many gardening stores also have early season sales where you can replenish your stock and save money.

Once the work plan is complete and your tools are sharpened, you can start your yard work. Rake up dead leaves, remove dead annuals, cut back the perennials and rose bushes that require trimming and prune your bushes and trees to give shape rather than letting them overrun your yard.

Depending on the size of your yard and what you want to do with it, you may opt for having the lawn rolled or aerated. Lawn rolling involves running a heavy drum over your lawn to flatten out bumps and divots from freeze-thaws of the winter. Lawn rolling may help prevent injuries because your kids can easily sprain an ankle by tripping over uneven ground while playing.

Use a thatching rake to remove dead grass, and fertilize the lawn with a spring fertilizer. For dead lawn patches, heavily rake the area, lay down a thin layer of black organic soil around the area, dispense some grass seed, and cover the seed with another thin layer of black organic soil. Water the patch frequently.

If you want to plant a vegetable garden, now is the time to rake or till the soil, and add some new organic soil and fertilizer in preparation for the seeds or sprouts that will be planted later.

Remember to put your pruning and organic yard waste in paper bags for municipal organics collection where facilities exist, or put them in a compost pile in your yard, if you have one.

Please DO NOT dispose of pesticides, fertilizers, or other chemicals down the drain or into the sewer! Take these items to your municipal hazardous waste disposal site, or a local garden store may have a recycling program. If you want to use environmentally friendly pesticides, talk to your local gardening expert or do an internet search for products that suit your zone and the plants you grow. Bring Me Outdoors field staff found that bio-soap products were pretty effective against most insects (including ants and the Japanese Beetle) and the sulphur based sprays were effective against most molds and fungi. The drawback for these products was their lack of endurance, as the products had to be continually reapplied, and a lot of money was burned through in the process. That’s the cost of “going green”.

With a little bit of planning you can prepare your yard to welcome the warmer weather and have fun with your family at the same time.