Milwaukee/NARI Offers Tips to Cultivate the Lawn and Garden

March 20, 2012

As the snow melts, homeowners may get the itch to tend to their lawns. Plants are disheveled, the shrubs need pruning, and there are noticeable bare spots in the grass. Spring is the ideal time to clean up after the effects of winter and prepare the lawn and gardens for summer.

Before gardeners pull out their gardening gloves and tools, members of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., celebrating 50 years as the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource, offer spring lawn and garden tips.

• Service lawn mower. Sharpen the blade and adjust the cutting height. This will make mowing easier and keep the grass looking healthy.
• Clean out the garage or shed. Don’t wait until the last minute to organize tools. Discard items and make a list of supplies that need to be purchased, repaired, or replaced.
• Inspect the yard. If the lawn is snow-free and not too soggy, examine the yard for dead branches, thatch, bare spots, signs of damage caused by critters, or other issues that need to be addressed.

Lawn Care
• Rake the lawn. Once the lawn is dry, it’s important to begin spring lawn care with raking. Rake dead grass, leaves, twigs, and other debris from the winter months. Raking also controls thatch, a dense mat that can form on the lawn.
• Use a pre-emergent herbicide. Apply pre-emergent herbicides to the lawn before weeds appear. If a weed is spotted during the inspection, pull it up and apply the herbicide. There is a short time frame when pre-emergent herbicides can be applied.
• Check the lawn’s pH level. Test the soil to determine the soil’s acidity or alkalinity. If the soil is acidic, apply lime. Add sulfur if it is too alkaline. The local county extension can help homeowners determine the pH level and offer advice to solve the issue.
• Loosen compacted soil. Compaction is common in areas of high traffic. Use lawn aeration or tilling to loosen the soil.
• Reseed bare spots. The ideal time to reseed the entire lawn is fall, but it is helpful to reseed spots that were damaged by the winter weather in spring.
• Fertilize the grass. Don’t fertilize too early. Wait until the grass begins to grow and green.
• Allow grass to grow before mowing. Let the grass grow three to four inches before mowing. Leave the grass clippings on the lawn. Mow frequently, so no more than one-third inch is removed each time.

Gardening and Planting
• Sow the seeds. Plant perennials in early spring so they’ll be established by summer. Wait until there is no threat of frost or high winds.
• Cut back perennials. If perennials were not cut back in the fall, it should be done in the spring. Unlike fall, don’t let the clippings drop. Collect and dispose them.
• Prune shrubbery. Ornamental grasses rose bushes, and other flowering shrubs should be pruned in the spring. Cut out dead, diseased, or damaged limbs. Don’t overdo it. The shrubs should keep a natural shape.
• Weed early. Getting a jump-start on weeding will save time during the summer months. Do a little at a time – 10 minutes in the morning or five minutes here and there.

The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI – the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

The Council’s goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry’s growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 800 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation’s largest.

For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI's Remodeling Guide,” call 414-771-4071 or visit the Council’s website at

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