When you own a home, your lawn and yard are your responsibility. If you don’t think to take care of these spaces, it won’t get done. Most people remember to do things like mow lawns because it’s an obvious task. If you look out the window and see shin-high grass, anyone will know you need to cut the lawn. But some issues are more subtle and might avoid casual notice. What are some of the things that slip past homeowners?
“The biggest thing people forget to do is add fertilizer,” said Josh Caldcleugh, account manager for Mullin, a company that provides landscape architecture services.
Why is fertilizer so important? Lawns and plants need healthy soil to survive. Soil will lose important nutrients as time goes by, so you need to replace those nutrients. Fertilizer is the best way to do that. Think of your fertilizer as equally important to your lawns and plants as sunshine and water. Caldcleugh recommended adding fertilizer to grass at the beginning of spring and near the end of fall.
Re-mulching should also be done twice a year (Caldcleugh recommended doing it at the beginning of spring and the beginning of winter). It helps keep the soil moist and slow down weed growth. Slowing down weed growth will save you the time and physical toil of needing to yank them out yourself.
In local neighborhoods like Uptown and the Garden District, there are lots of large trees to provide ample shade. While this makes the neighborhood look good and keeps people cooler during the lengthy, sweltering New Orleans summers, it can make growing grass under all that shade a challenge. Caldcleugh suggested finding specific types of grass that thrive in the shade like monkey grass (a.k.a. liriope) or Asian jasmine.
It’s also a good idea to cut back plants as they grow. Pruning improves a plant’s overall health by allowing more light and air to circulate within the plant. However, if you prune at the wrong time, you might damage the plant. Not all plants and situations are equal, so if you have questions about specific plants, talk to an expert at a local plant store or in the garden section of a Home Depot. This is also true of fertilizer as different plants and shrubs may have different needs.
To give a few examples, it is best to prune azaleas within three weeks of their blooming time in the spring. Camellias are best to prune in the spring once you feel the threat of a freeze has passed (in New Orleans, the onset of spring weather can vary some from year to year).
Landscaping Tools Every Homeowner Should Have
So you’re ready to do some gardening and landscaping at home. What do you need to accomplish your goals as easily as possible? Caldcleugh shared his thoughts on what tools homeowners will want to keep handy for their yards and gardens.
Spade – It’s great for digging and transplanting larger plants, plus it works well at creating garden bed and lawn edges, trenching and dividing shrubs.
Gloves – Protect your hands from cuts, scrapes, splinters, blisters, callouses and dirt while you work with a sturdy pair of work gloves. “A full day of gardening can really do a number on your bare hands,” Caldcleugh said.
Garden Hoe – This versatile tool is great for cultivating soil. It’s useful for prepping beds for new plantings and excellent at removing weeds from beds.
Hand Shears/Loppers – These can be used for trimming, shaping and removing dead growth from plants and shrubs. Loppers are especially useful for larger branches.
Hand Trowel – This tool is essential for planting, transplanting and potting small plants.