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When Spring Fever Hits, Remember to Pace Yourself in the Garden

grass after aeration
creative commons
grass after aeration

Whoa, slow down.  I know two people that have injured their backs already this season.  Stretch and loosen up before you go out to cut, rake, dig and throw.


I have spring fever.  A few nice spring days and I’m ready to get out in the garden.  Ornamental grasses need cut back.  The winter debris needs to be removed so the bulbs pop out.  The weeds are coming on, too.  Folks in the high country have a few more snow storms before they can think about beginning the gardening season.

Start the season by planting some early vegetables.  Most spring vegetables germinate when the soil temperature is above 50 degrees.  Warm up the cool spring soil with a simple cold frame or greenhouse.  Better yet, start the seeds in the house. 

Veggies in the cabbage family are prime, early spring candidates.  Spring grown cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli have added flavor and fewer pests.  They do best started indoors and then transplanted out into the garden. Salad greens are also an early spring garden treat.  Buy pre-mixed packets of greens or mix your own.  Use leaf lettuce, endive, Mache and mustard greens.

Spring preparation of a lawn develops deep, drought resistant roots that use less of our precious water resource throughout the year.  Each lawn is different.  Factors like the soil type, grass type, the amount of sun or shade, and the time of year all effect how a lawn should be trained in the spring. 

Aerating the lawn in the spring is one of the most important ways to improve a lawn’s water efficiency.  Aerating lessens soil compaction.  It lets air, nutrients and water into the soil.  Aerating is easiest when the soil is moist.  Since we haven’t had any natural moisture you will need to water thoroughly before aerating.  Leave the plugs on top of the soil.  As they breakdown they add organic matter and nutrients. 

Spring is an important time to fertilize the lawn.  There are organic fertilizers that are also environmentally friendly.  These fertilizers have uniform nutrients and are easy to apply.  We use an alfalfa based organic fertilizer made in Loveland.  It’s high in organic matter, has all of the nutrients a lawn needs and is adjusted for our region’s soils.

But start slowly.  The pain of a pulled muscle takes the fun out of spring fever.


Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.