There's so much more to a great yard than just mowing the lawn.

Yard Care Tips for May

Finally! It looks like it’s going to be a beautiful weekend to work in the yard. I’ve gotten a bit behind due to the snow, so I’m going to address the most important things first. Here’s my list for this weekend.

Turn on your sprinkler system.

Blue Periwinkle

Blue periwinkle can be a good groundcover for part-shade spots.

As soon as the weather warms up, our lawns and landscape plants will use more water. Since the soil can only hold several days of moisture, it’s important to be proactive about turning on your sprinklers.

When you turn on your system, be sure to check for leaks or broken parts. Fix any issues before you start watering regularly. Also, if you’re going to be updating your system, be sure to check for rebates on efficient sprinkler system parts. Your water provider may offer rebates that can help you upgrade your systems for minimal cost.

Fertilize your lawn.

Even though home improvement stores begin promoting lawn fertilizer in April, May is an excellent time to fertilize your lawn. Once grass has greened up and begun growing rapidly, it can make good use of the nutrients that fertilizer contains.

Select a simple lawn fertilizer. Choose one that doesn’t contain weed and feed, crabgrass preventer or insect control. Nearby trees and shrubs can take up the herbicides in weed and feed fertilizer, which will damage them over time. Likewise, crabgrass and insect problems should be treated separately. If you’re not sure which one to choose, check out this post.

Mow.

The snow provided a lot of moisture for Colorado lawns. Now that the temperature is warming up, they are going to grow really quickly. Don’t let your grass get too tall before you cut it.

Believe it or not, there are some core principles to mowing that will encourage a healthy lawn. You can read about them here.

Think about planting.

Carol Mackie Daphne

Carol Mackie Daphne has fragrant, light pink flowers in spring.

May is a great time of year to add new plants to your yard. The weather is finally warm to encourage rapid root growth, but not too hot that new transplants will suffer. Plus, local garden centers and nurseries have the best selection at this time of year.

If you’re looking for water-wise plants to enhance your landscape, be sure to check out Colorado Springs Utilities’ new online plant database at waterwiseplants.org. It features beautiful pictures of plants that grow well in Colorado Springs, an inspiring photo gallery of local landscapes, and the ability to create a list of your favorite plants that you can print, email or share. It’s a great tool to help you find plants that will thrive for years to come.

If you live in Fort Collins, Metro Denver or Pueblo, you’ll have additional plant options due to your lower elevation, but it may give you some ideas.

Where to buy?

Cushion spurge

Cushion spurge has chartreuse flowers in May.

I recommend local plant sales, nurseries and greenhouses almost exclusively. Yes, you will pay a higher price than the home improvement stores, but think of the extra cost as the fee you’re paying for pre-screened plants. They sell plants they know are likely to succeed, so let’s pay them for their expertise.

When I worked at Home Base just out of college (remember them before they went out of business?) our plant buyer was based in San Diego. That explains why we had bougainvillea and azaleas for sale.

Two great plant sales I like to visit are the Denver Botanic Garden’s Plant Sale, which is happening today and tomorrow, and the Horticultural Art Society’s Plant Sale in Colorado Springs on May 13, 14 and 15.

When you get your new plants home, be sure to read my article on the “Nine Steps to Successful Planting” so they have the best chance to thrive.

Enjoy this beautiful weather!

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