March weather is notoriously unpredictable, especially in Utah, where a week of sunshine is often followed by days of unrelenting snowfall. But for steadfast gardeners and loyal landscapers, the early spring season is a time to reevaluate your awakening outdoor areas. Of course, it’s not quite time to plant delicate blooms in the ground, but getting a head start on your plein air projects will undoubtedly sow the seeds of green-thumbed success. To help you get started, Ginger Belnap, owner and principal landscape designer of Meadow Brook Design, offers her top five tips for Utah spring landscaping.
1) Be careful with fertilizer
Winter storms hit the Wasatch Front sporadically between March and April, and a surge in moisture can impact your lawn. Too much rain produces runoff that carries fertilizer away that hasn’t had the opportunity to soak into the soil. Belnap suggests keeping an eye on the weather and applying fertilizer two days before a heavy storm to avoid deficiency. The type of fertilizer used is just as important as timing, and using the nutrient-rich version gives your lawn the best chance at revival after a long winter. “In the spring, you want to apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer to give your lawn a quick green color,” says Belnap.
2) Think of the big picture
Even seemingly low maintenance and water-wise landscapes require maintenance. Do your future self a favor by planning out the landscape of your entire yard before you begin spring gardening. “An efficient landscape design takes advantage of the entire yard, fostering a sense of function, flow and beauty,” Belnap explains. Factors to consider when planning your landscape include:
- Defining areas organized by plant type
- Including distinct borders
- Not forgetting pathways
3) Prioritize Privacy
Without added privacy, even a well-designed landscape loses its charm and comfort. While you wait for the season’s last freeze, take the opportunity to research garden features that provide both visual appeal and the feeling of seclusion. Strategically placed fences may separate a neighbor’s property from yours, but other solutions include decorative screens and evergreens. Even a row of potted topiaries can designate a private sitting area apart from the busier yard areas when placed in an appropriate position.
4) Focus your family values
If you plan on undertaking a total landscape overhaul this spring, Belnap advises investing in features you know your family will use and enjoy. “If your family enjoys playing games, prioritize a level lawn space to play soccer or football,” she says. “Or maybe installing a pickleball court is a better fit for your family and lifestyle—be creative!”
5) Remember bigger isn’t always better
It might be tempting to go ahead and invest in mature shrubs and plants that will immediately fill in your sparse landscape. But planting juvenile greenery gives your yard an opportunity to grow and change with the seasons while also being easier on your budget. Belnap thinks of this as a long-term investment, like “choosing small trees over shrubs as they take longer to grow and require less long-term maintenance.”