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Vail Valley Gardening: You can awaken your garden in spring

Mike Earl
Special to the Vail Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –The Vail Valley landscaper’s first task in the spring is to clean up, and prepare the landscape for optimum growth. While there may not be much going on above ground, there is an incredible amount happening underground. It’s important to complete spring clean up and maintenance early so you don’t have to work around new growth.

Gardens

We start by removing any leftover growth from the previous year and lay down a top dressing of composted cattle manure and cotton burrs. Typically, fall cut back has left 2- to 3-inch stems and some low lying foliage. These materials can harbor disease pathogens so they need to be removed along with any remaining tree leaves or debris from the previous year. The compost provides a fresh source of nutrients to encourage new growth and can be tilled into the soil once it has served its purpose. This compost helps to break up difficult, Rocky Mountain soils. In addition, it provides an attractive texture and neat appearance as we wait for plants to come up and fill our gardens.



Shrubs and trees

We prune any dead, damaged or broken members, evaluate any support stakes, remove old mulch and replace it with fresh. Care must be taken when pruning as it is possible to unknowingly transmit disease by not disinfecting tools between cuts. It is also easy to stunt growth and flowering by accidentally removing buds on spring flowering shrubs.



Turf

If you have turf, it’s time to de-thatch. De-thatching severs rhizomes and stolons (underground stems) promoting new growth resulting in a more dense, lush lawn. De-thatching must be timed with irrigation start-up or else risk damaging your lawn.

You should apply a pre-emergent herbicide with a little fertilizer mixed-in at the same time as de-thatching to help to minimize weed growth and give the turf a boost of energy. Our plant health care division applies a precise blend tuned specifically to our Rocky Mountain soil conditions.



While it is fine to repair damage from snow plows, pests or otherwise in the spring, true overseeding should be performed in the fall. If you overseed during spring at the same time that you are applying a pre-emergent herbicide, the herbicide will hinder the growth of the new seed. Pre-emergent herbicides are designed to prevent the germination of weed seeds. They cannot discriminate, however, between weed seeds and sewn grass seed. Applying grass seed in combination with a pre-emergent herbicide (or most any herbicide) is a recipe for disaster.

Most importantly, spring is a time to plan. It’s a time to look back at your garden and consider what you liked and disliked, what worked and what might do better elsewhere in the garden. Once everything is growing and full, it becomes harder to see beyond what’s in place. Spring cleanup provides a beautiful, blank canvas upon which one can imagine endless possibilities.

Mike Earl is the customer service manager at Land Designs By Ellison/A Cut Above Forestry. Call 970-904-2137 or e-mail mearl@ldbye.com for more information.


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