Spring has sprung

A few answers to commonly asked questions at this time of year, such as how early is too early to start mowing your lawn.

Spring is well and truly here, with March having come in like the proverbial lion and gone out like the proverbial lamb (with or without mint sauce; it’s your call). Herewith are a few answers to common questions at this time of year.

I recently tried starting my lawnmower, leaf blower, and weed-eater, and after sputtering and blowing out some sparks and a few puffs of smoke none of them worked. What should I do? I assume you’ve already done the obvious, which is swear loudly, shake your fist impotently at the heavens, and kick the side of the shed. If so, then my advice is to be very, very careful when you light your barbecue for the first time this year.

What’s the best course of treatment to ensure I have a healthy-looking, weed-free, green lawn for summer? That’s an excellent question. One school of thought is that you should carefully thatch your lawn, to get rid of dead grass; aerate it, to stimulate growth; and apply fertilizer that also has a weed control element, taking care to pick the right type for your soil conditions and ensuring you don’t over-apply it, which can cause damage to the grass. The other school of thought is Astroturf.

When should I start mowing my lawn for the season? That depends: have you got your lawnmower fixed yet? If so, then you can start as soon as there’s a hint of a whisper of a suspicion that the grass might have grown half-a-millimetre since the last time you looked at it. If not, then you should probably do something by the time the grass is so high that pets and small children get lost in it.

My back yard is covered with leaves that blew off my neighbour’s trees, and which I didn’t get around to raking up last fall. What are my options? About the only thing you can do is grit your teeth, rake up the leaves, and bag them. Then, in the middle of the night, take the bags into your neighbour’s yard and empty them over the grass. Note: check wind direction and speed before you do this, or you could be right back where you started.

How early in the morning can I start mowing the lawn? Starting up your lawnmower too early in the morning—especially on weekends—is a great way to annoy your neighbours. Another great way to annoy them is by ensuring your sprinklers are set in such a way that they spray at least half of the driveway next door. That will teach them not to leave the car windows down overnight.

The weather has been gorgeous lately. Is it too soon to start planting my garden? That depends. If you’re a fan of the Addams family look—gnarled, stunted branches; blackened flowers; leaves that crumble to the touch—then go ahead. Otherwise you’re probably best waiting until at least Mother’s Day, unless you really enjoy planting your garden and figure that once a season isn’t enough.

One last question: The neighbours on either side of my house go all out in their gardens with fabulous displays, and I just don’t have the time or inclination to match them. What can I do? Get your property surveyed, and make sure that the stakes are placed in such a way that they “prove” your neighbours’ properties overlap with yours. They will naturally want to extend their gardening efforts into their “new” territory, so it’s a win-win situation. Alternatively, you can just put a “condemned” sign up on the waist-high grassland that is your front yard, and call it a day.