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A green, healthy lawn takes year-round care and maintenance, but changing seasons bring changing landscaping solutions in Northern New Jersey. Different climate and weather conditions cause stress on your trees, shrubs and plants, so seasonal care and maintenance is necessary to protect your lawn and prevent damage. With Spring here, it’s time to get going on making your lawn a notch above your neighbors.

The spring season brings warm weather and abundant new growth to everything in your landscape. Trees, shrubs and plants sprout new leaves, flowers develop colorful new blooms and grass begins to grow at a rapid pace. Spring is the time of year when you need to jump-start healthy growth and strong root systems, so plants can recover from a long, cold winter.

In parts of the country with cold winters, like Bergen County, NJ, snow provides some protection for your lawn by acting like a ground cover. However, freezing ground temperatures often make grass roots dry and brittle. When snow turns to ice, grass blades get crushed, plant cells freeze and trees and shrubs often die. The beginning of spring and warm temperatures provides an opportunity for new growth in your landscape.

Step One: CLEAN UP

When the last signs of winter frost are gone, focus on cleaning up your landscape. Rake up dead, dry leaves and remove any debris like fallen tree limbs, branches and twigs, rocks and trash that may have blown onto your property during the winter. Get rid of damp or wet leaves as quickly as possible, as they can smother your grass and cause new growth to die from lack of oxygen. Wet leaves, especially in shady areas, can also harbor outdoor insects and pests.

Step 2: AERATE YOUR LAWN

During the winter, soil often becomes dry and compacted from freezing temperatures. The aeration process punches small holes in your lawn so adequate water, oxygen and fertilizer can reach grass roots through the soil properly. Aeration is one of the most important spring landscaping solutions to ensure healthy, strong roots and new grass growth.

For best aeration results, choose a nice spring day when the soil is slightly damp, not wet, so the aeration machine will work more efficiently. Talk to your landscape professional about the best type of aeration process for your Bergen County lawn.

Step 3: FERTILIZE YOUR LAWN

The best time to fertilize your lawn is early spring when new growth is beginning. Proper fertilization is important to establish healthy, new growth. Fertilizer provides essential nutrients, like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and iron, which feeds plant roots and encourages new growth.

For best results, select a light, slow-release or organic type fertilizer. In Northern NJ, where winters get very cold, fall fertilization is also used to protect cool-season grasses that typically go dormant during the winter season. A fall fertilization schedule will encourage plant roots to store energy for the following spring.

Step 4: APPLY WEED AND PEST CONTROLS

Warm weather promotes new growth, but it also encourages weeds, insects, diseases and outdoor pests to invade your landscape. In early to mid-March, apply a pre-emergent herbicide that prevents crabgrass and other aggressive weeds like dandelions, thatch and foxtail from invading your lawn. These aggressive weeds typically invade as soon as warm weather approaches and they can quickly overtake your lawn.

Crabgrass begins to germinate as soon as the soil gets warm, so before spring arrives, talk to your Bergen County landscape professional about proper weed control and an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program that focuses on organic landscaping solutions to prevent unwanted pests in your landscape.

Once spring is in full force, proper lawn care and maintenance is essential to keep your lawn and landscape healthy and pest-free. During the spring season, your grass, plants, shrubs and trees grow much faster, so your landscape can easily become overgrown. Weekly lawn mowing, regular weeding, proper lawn care, maintenance and pest control will keep your landscape looking its best and keep insects and diseases out of your lawn. Aggressive weeds, insects and diseases prey on malnourished and ill-maintained landscapes. Forget the pests and be sure to have a standout lawn this summer, starting right now.

Mark Borst is a landscape professional and owner of Borst Landscape & Design in Allendale, NJ.

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