OUTDOOR OUTLOOK: Now is the time to look to your landscape

Don Sherbeyn

Since this is our first article together I think it wise to introduce myself. My name is Donald Sherbeyn and I have been playing in landscapes in our area professionally for more than 20 years now. I say playing because, when you love what you do, you never truly have to work.

Understanding all too well the love we have for our gardens, lawn, trees and outdoor living spaces, I look forward to being a source for fellow gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts to find answers or even ask questions to some of the issues we face in our gardens.

It’s finally spring with the sun a little longer in the sky and warm on my back. Perennials and bulbs emerging, trees blooming and the smell of fresh dirt on my hands. If you’re anything like me, there truly is no better time of year. There is no place I would rather be than in the garden in early spring.

This is the perfect time of year to get back to your landscape. It’s time to remove winter debris, re define bed edges and go through your garden to see how the winter has treated her. Prune damaged branches from your shrubs and ornamentals and install a fresh layer of mulch.

How do you take care of these things like the pros? Well, that’s where we are hoping this article will help you.

Those hard to get to areas of the landscape are where most problems start. Be sure to clear old leaves and debris from under and around your mature landscape. There are countless troublesome insects and funguses that can amass in landscape debris quickly spreading to the rest of your landscape. Taking the time now to get this out could save you a lot of time and money later.

A good bed edge is 4 inches deep and 4 inches wide at the surface with the outside edge dug straight down and the inside edge cut at about a 45 degree angle. Mulch should come down from the top of the bed to the bottom of the edge without filling the edge. Mulch in the edge will be about 2 inches thick along the angled side of the trench. The bed edge doesn’t only look nice but helps eliminate the risk of lawn grasses from entering the mulched gardens. The open space helps to ensure weeds cannot send a root or rhizome across the opening and get into your beds. Bed edges cut deeper than 4 inches  may look nice but they could also be a trip hazard so be careful where you install those deeper edges.

Early spring pruning is usually light shaping and damage repair so going through your garden looking for broken branches, shrubs that may have sent out a wild late season branch or touching up and removing winter burn is about all you will need to do this month.

Installing mulch, sounds simple right. Well, done wrong it can cause a lot of problems. Using a cheap non composted mulch can bring weeds into your garden. Installing too much mulch can kill your landscape and result in an overabundance of molds and funguses. A good mulch should be a double or triple shred mulch that will allow water and air to pass through to the soil below. Composted to achieve a naturally dark color will ensure the weeds and other inert matter were killed in the composting phase. A really fine mulch is often desirable but be sure there are large enough pieces of bark to keep porosity and installed to maintain a maximum of 4 inches total mulch in the gardens.

Next month I will be writing about weed control, If you have any questions send them along and I will try to be sure to cover them.

Donald Sherbeyn is the owner of Sherbeyn’s Landscape. You may reach him at 540-727-8835 or splclawn@msn.com. Visit www.sherbeyns.com