Spring has sprung. The days are getting longer, the earth is renewing itself and Old Man Winter has officially packed his bags and headed out of town. Trees are budding (sorry, allergy sufferers) flowers are blooming and grass is already growing with vigor.
Something that always comes to my mind when I think of springtime is our yard where I grew up on Warren's west side. When my parents planted a batch of crocuses in the front yard, they creatively spelled out ''It's Spring'' with the bulbs. What a fun and welcome sight to behold each year. Our yard was also always full of hyacinths, daffodils and tulips, not to mention peony bushes and a gorgeous forsythia.
The home improvement stores have rolled out the necessary tools for all of you weekend yard warriors: bags of mulch, flowers, tools, lawnmowers and a plethora of other items.
With unseasonably warm temperatures in the 80s a few weeks ago, spring got a jumpstart, but perhaps jumped the gun too early. Now, the weather seems to be getting back to normal, to where we ought to be in northeast Ohio in April.
Because last year was the wettest in recorded Ohio history, our yard never really did dry out. With a creek just behind the property line, our yard and a few adjacent lots stayed flooded, or at least squishy, for a good part of 2011. It was difficult, if not impossible, to mow the grass at all, let alone try to get the leaves up last fall. Last summer, when I couldn't stand the sight of it anymore, I actually got the mower stuck in the mud in an attempt to tame the two-foot-high jungle that had grown around the house.
With this in mind, Monday afternoon I eagerly hopped on the new mower Dad bought us last year (thanks, Dad) and decided to get going. You see, all of my neighbors maintain their yards in beautifully manicured perfection, so there's unspoken peer pressure to do the same. My next-door neighbors are lawn and garden experts, and they'd already mowed last weekend, so it was time for me to get cracking.
One problem, though, with firing up the Craftsman and gleefully mowing away that I hadn't considered, the equivalent of an entire tree's worth of sticks that had accumulated all over the yard throughout the last four months. After almost running over a branch the size of my arm, I soon realized I hadn't performed the necessary prep work before the big mow. Luckily, I stopped and picked them up before I ran one over and mangled our cool new lawnmower.
With the first mow of the season under my lawn care belt, I now must turn my attention to the rest of the lawn. The sprouting hostas that are beginning to look like little asparagus need weeded and some leftover leaves need to be burned. Experts suggest an annual spring lawn care routine to ensure a beautiful yard throughout the year. Raking, aerating, seeding, fertilizing and weeding are among the must-do tasks.
Are you as confused about all the talk of soil compaction and pre-emergent herbicides as I am? Don't worry; there are plenty of resources available to help you sort it all out. Gardening classes at local community colleges are offered, as are Saturday afternoon workshops at local outdoor supply stores. There are plenty of books at the public library and countless websites on the Internet to help you in your quest to turn your landscape into a thing of beauty.
Weatherman is a Trumbull County resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.