Springtime Spruce Up 1-2-3

Springtime Spruce Up 1-2-3

Homeowners can be easily overwhelmed with knowing what to do to make their outdoor space look sharp when spring rolls around. Here is a brief guide to help you keep up.

Overseed the Lawn

Turf lawns are the norm in Iowa, but most folks do not realize that these types of grasses are not native to the state. The reality is that it is a constant process to keep it looking nice because homeowners are competing with nature to keep it alive. If you have a non-native turf-style lawn (e.g. Kentucky Blue Grass), you will want to overseed periodically throughout the season to address bare spots and keep it looking lush. You can also choose to add compost to the lawn which acts as natural fertilizer and retains moisture.

If you are not interested in the constant upkeep, consider a native turf lawn which does not need supplemental water or mowing once established. Local favorites include a mix of Buffalo Grass and Blue Grama Grass. Many municipalities and counties offer reimbursements or grants to convert your lawn for the water savings as well as erosion control and ecosystem benefits.

Pruning & Tidying

Early spring – before temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit overnight – is an ideal time to prune most shrubs and trees as they are just waking up from their winter naps. Every variety has different guidelines and it is possible to do permanent damage, so it is wise to do a bit of research before you get to chopping. If you are unsure of the varieties of vegetation on your property, it may be worth the cost to have a professional draw up a plant identification map for you. It is an inexpensive, yet valuable tool to help maintain your property.

Clearing leaves and dead vegetation from the ground ideally happens once air temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for a week. Resist the urge on those early sunny days to get raking and clearing. Why? Uncovering foliage too early can leave your plants vulnerable to frost damage when its spring growth is developing. Additionally, pollinators and crucial insects use the dead vegetation for food and shelter during the winter. These creatures are necessary for the health of your lawn and area ecosystems.

Revamp Garden Beds

Even the most dedicated, experienced gardeners face the inevitable sometimes: the plants that do not make it over winter. Take inventory and replace to avoid holes in your landscaping. The cheapest option is to split and transplant perennials that are already doing well in your space. Or, pick out some new ones! Before you head to the garden center, it is important to know how much space you must fill, what the sun is like in the area, and your soil: is it loose? Sandy? A lot of clay or compacted? There is no “one size fits all” plants in Iowa but your safest bets are always Iowa native plants which are adaptable to spaces and need very little maintenance over time. Local favorites include Coneflower, Black-Eyed Susan, Dogwood, Summersweet, Indian Grass, Pennsylvania Sedge among many others. Check with your municipality on reimbursement opportunities for native plantings. They can improve soil quality over time, support the pollinators and require less supplemental watering so cities incentivize choosing them for your projects.

Want instant curb appeal? After you have cleared up your garden beds and replaced dead plants, add some fresh mulch. But not more than two inches deep! This helps to retain moisture for your plants, can slow weed growth and adds some vibrancy to your space without suffocating plant roots. While colored mulch is most popular, please note that it needs annual refreshing to look consistent. It fades quickly in the sun and rain, and contains harsh chemicals which can be harmful to pets, wildlife, and people. Consider using natural cedar mulch, which will only need refreshing every few seasons and is a more neutral tone against your home and plants.

Indoor Tips

Let us not forget about your indoor garden! Houseplants need different care in the spring than they do over winter. With increased daylight, they require more frequent watering, a bit of plant food and pruning off any dead leaves or stems that may have happened while it experienced a bit of dormancy over the winter. It is always a good practice to check for pests when you water; many can hatch in the spring with increased warmth and doors and windows being open.


There can be a lot of to-dos when it comes to keeping up with your landscaping, but much of this can be mitigated by making choices upfront that best fit your needs in the long-run. If you are unsure of what directions to go in, consider hiring a professional to consult before you get to work. It can be a low-cost way to get a game plan together for your peace of mind so you can spend more time enjoying your spaces rather than working on them.



Contributed by Leah Ackeman

Co-Owner of Manscapes Lawn & Garden


[email protected]


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