The winter of 2012 stood in sharp contrast to the record breaking winter of 2011 as only a few inches of snow accumulated all season. Without this snow cover or “white fertilizer” to act as insulation, lawns were left exposed to strong winter winds resulting in desiccation, or extreme drying. Add to this a spring with unusually mild temperatures arriving ahead of schedule and it means that homeowners could face a unique set of challenges when they begin to address their landscape needs this spring.
We reached out to our in-house experts for a few tips to help you counteract some of the common issues that come with an “open winter” and recover a lush, green landscape this spring:
Mow Early and Often – When it comes to mowing, it’s better to be too early than too late. As grass grows and pushes last year’s desiccated tissue to the top, sharp blades will take it off cleanly and make room for new, healthy grass. Mow often as grass grows quickly in the spring, but try to set your height so as not to remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade. As temperatures rise through the summer, consider raising your mower height to around 3″ to reduce stress on your lawn. Leaving clippings on your lawn, rather than bagging, will help speed the return of nutrients to the soil.
Manage Pests – Milder temperatures typically allow greater numbers of insects to survive the winter and an early spring can mean a longer growing season and more generations of certain insects. Specifically, New England might encounter an unusually high volume of deer ticks and the woolly adelgid – an insect that attacks hemlock trees – this season. The best way to keep these pests in check is to contact a certified arborist to evaluate your property and recommend a safe and effective solution.
Prevent Disease – When buds begin to swell and break open earlier in the season, diseases such as dogwood anthracnose, cedar-apple rust and apple scab diseases on crabapple trees, leaf spot diseases on cherry trees and diplodia tip blight on Austrian pines are able to gain an early foothold. The best approach to protecting against these diseases is prevention. By addressing and treating for these diseases ahead of time, you can lessen the chance of damage to your trees and shrubs during an early spring.