After The Rain -- A Pacific Northwesterner's Guide To Prepping Your Spring Yard

Pacific Northwest winters can be rainy and cold, so when they give way to sunny and warmer temperatures, it's time to get outside and enjoy nature. But first, take a few hours to make your yard ready to host all your summer fun. Here are 4 easy steps to getting the job done. 

Start with Trees and Shrubs. Make yard work easier by starting at the top: with the trees and shrubs. Armed with a sharp pair of pruners, a cherry picker, or a handsaw, get rid of any dead or damaged branches. Trim hedges and evergreens into a pleasing shape and to encourage branches to grow in the directions you want. 

Next, Move to Flower Beds. As you inspect your garden beds, dig up damaged perennials and used-up annuals to clear space. Perennials that are still in good shape can often be pruned back to about 4-6 inches to encourage new growth. Check with your garden store or landscaper about pruning schedules for specific blooms. Thin out or even up crowded plant beds by dividing flowers like daylilies or hostas. Examine vines and trim back older, woody canes on the plants.

Clean Off the Ground. After fixing up the plants, it's time to clean the yard's base. Rake out fallen leaves, dead foliage, and debris left over by the rain and snow. If the weather is warm enough to avoid future frosts, pull up old mulch to replace it with newer material. Lay down some new plant fertilizer -- including a 5-10-10 fertilizer for bulbs about to spring through the soil. If you're not sure about the types of fertilizer to use, you may want to consult with a fertilizing service.

Finally, Give the Lawn Attention. After completing the boundaries of your yard, turn your sights on the lawn. Early spring is a good time to get ahead of new grass growth. Remove any grass damaged by the snow or winter plows, then work in about 1/2 inch of compost to help seedlings. By March in the Pacific Northwest, you'll probably want to have the lawn fertilized and aerated properly. Start mowing when the grass reaches about 3 inches high -- and keep the mower handy since grass in this region tends to grow fastest in the spring.

After following these steps, you yard should be ready to start hosting you and your guests for outdoor adventures. And then, you can spend more time outside enjoying a season without rain.