A Spring Garden Fit for a Townhouse

(Article by Lisa H)

We tend to spend a great deal of time keeping our home in top shape, so it makes sense to pay as much attention to the garden. Even if you live in a townhouse with a small garden, you can still get it ready for spring.

First of all, you’ll need to remedy winter! It’s not easy to figure out what causes areas of your lawn to go brown or even die but there are ways to you can learn to identify problems and solutions to ensure that this doesn’t happen next winter. In fact, most lawn problems can be kept at bay with proper maintenance, watering and fertilizing but there is always the chance you’ll encounter additional problems. 

Let’s take a look at a few ways to keep your garden looking good so that next spring you’ll have half the work to do.

Mole Crickets

These not so little pests are about 4 centimeters long and brown in color. They tend to lay eggs in the soil during spring. Once hatched the nymphs feed of the root system of your lawn and if you don’t control this, the cycle will continue, eventually destroying the lawn. 

Symptoms to look out for include upturned heaps and brown spots. Also, when turf is removed you may see tunnels in the soil. 

Chemical pesticides are fairly effective but there is an eco-friendly alternative in the form of a dishwashing liquid and water mixture poured directly into the holes. This should be done regularly to cut down the population.

Lawn Caterpillars

These creatures are most active at night and they tend to eat roots and shoots, causing lawn to die off or dead patches.

You can check for the caterpillars by placing a damp towel on the grass and leaving it overnight. By morning you should find the caterpillars under the towel. 

When it comes to getting rid of them, insecticide is the best solution. 

Dry, Brown Grass

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We might be used to dead or dry grass during winter, but we can bring it back to life. Firstly, it’s crucial that you aerate the lawn annually with a garden fork. Spike the lawn just before spring arrives. If the dead area sees a lot of foot traffic, consider placing stepping stones in that section – it will save you from trying to save the lawn and it’s aesthetically pleasing too.

Getting Ready for Spring

Getting ready for spring can be an exciting time. Walk around your garden and decide where and how you can add a bit of color and foliage. 

Next, you’ll need to prune your trees and shrubs before it warms up. If you haven’t done this already, do so as soon as possible to give cuts time to heal. You don’t need to be a landscaper to do this: decide how you want your shrubs to look, what sort of shape you’d like or where there is excess growth to remove and then grab a pair of sharp secateurs or trimmers to get cutting.

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A good tip is to cut about a centimeter away from the leaf node which will eventually sprout new growth. Keep in mind that a leaf node pointing up will sprout up and vice versa. So if you’re pruning a shrub or tree, be sure to prune at the right spot.

Annual pruning is vital for removing dead wood and cutting back overgrowth. It’s also important to give trees and shrubs a kick start for the upcoming season. Pruning shrubs is not only aesthetically pleasing but it can help to increase their flowering and production of new flower buds.

Going Weed-Free

If you have a smaller townhouse garden, you may have less space for weeds, but you may have them nonetheless. Take the time to remove weeds as and when they appear in order to control how many weeds pop up randomly.

By doing this you don’t allow the weeds the time to spread or seed and that way you can control them. Winter is the best time for spotting weeds as most bedding plants will be resting or have died down. Grab a garden fork or trowel and loosen the soil around the weeds and then pull them out by the roots. Don’t leave those roots behind – the weeds will just grow back.

Enriching Soil

Leaf-fall is great for garden beds as it enriches soil with nutrients. It’s essential to put those nutrients back into the ground as plants absorb it during the summer months and a good dose of nutrients will ensure a good show of flowers when summer arrives.

Dividing and Multiplying

August is the best time for dividing up plants that have grown into big clumps. Use a garden fork to loosen soil around the plant. Make sure that you dig enough to loosen around the root system.

Pull away some of the clumping plants from the parent plant and use a sharp pair of cutters to break apart the clump by splitting apart the roots. From one big clump you might just land up with four or six new, smaller plants that you can add to the garden. Be sure to feed the new plants with organic compost to replenish soil and then give them a really good watering.

If you’re not sure what to put into your garden, head to the local garden center for advice on plants for your townhouse garden. Pick out great summer colors, plants and seedlings and once all chances of frost have passed (remember there’s always a cold spell in September!)get down to work planting your new arrivals. Keep them well watered until the rainy season starts.

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