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Five Fun Spring Yard and Garden Prep Tasks to Get the Kids Outside

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Five Fun Spring Yard and Garden Prep Tasks to Get the Kids Outside
Five Fun Spring Yard and Garden Prep Tasks to Get the Kids Outside

Posted on Monday, March 28, 2016
By: J.P. Mascaro & Sons
Categories: Main Category

A profound quote from Canadian poet and novelist, Margaret Atwood expresses, "In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." Celebrated American author and poet, Henry David Thoreau – when penning his wonders of spring – eloquently affirmed, “So mild the air a pleasure 'twas to breathe, for what seems heaven above was earth beneath.

For those who have young children or grandchildren in this i-Laden modern era, it can often be difficult to coax them away from their video games and multitude of other technological devices which are so adept at keeping a child’s posterior planted to the sofa.

Perhaps one of the few times kids cannot download an app for that, is when you take (or drag) them outside to work in the yard and garden with you. So don’t go it alone! Make them ditch their devices, untether their tushes, and share in these five fun spring yard and garden prep tasks!

Start A Compost Pile
No matter the current condition of your planting soil, the inclusion of organic compost can convert it into a healthy growing medium for your plants. Compost also increases airflow and water retention, stabilizes pH levels, and enhances the structure and texture of the soil. Organic materials like leaves, plants, newspaper, straw, grass clippings, manure, and kitchen scraps (no animal products) make great compost. Research and purchase or build the setup that works best for you. Turn the compost frequently to add aeration and speed the decomposition process.

Make it Fun: Let each child take a turn at turning the compost while singing 15 seconds of their favorite children’s song. Time them and keep the garden fork passing around the circle.

Remove Debris & Send to Compost
Winter’s furry unleashed on your trees and shrubs inevitably leaves a mess. Collect the fallen and broken branches and sticks. Pull the dead plants from your flower and vegetable gardens. Removing debris also removes potential breeding and hiding places for problem pests and disease. Add the favorable debris to your compost pile. Do not try to compost the weeds however. That will come back to haunt you. They are weeds!

Make it Fun: Use a stop watch (yes, there is an app for that) to time the kids pushing or pulling the garden cart to the compost pile, emptying, and returning. Reward the winner with tasty treats or a prize (no participation trophies for all please).

Rake Dead Leaves
If you didn’t follow the fall cleanup tips to a ‘T’, don’t worry. Last year’s downed leaves make great compost. It’s also important to remove them from the grass so that they don’t block the sunlight and affect growth. Additionally, fallen leaves encourage the growth of mold and fungus which are not friendly to the health of your grass. Rake them up and add them to your compost pile.

Make it Fun: Nothing’s better for a kid than jumping into a big pile of leaves. Granted, it’s a lot more fun in the fall when the leaves aren’t so gnarly. That’s what showers are for.

Prune & Trim
Early spring is a good time to do some pruning. However, you should avoid top pruning. Plants like forsythia, lilacs, honeysuckle and others form flower buds on growth produced from the previous season. Top pruning these will result in loss of flowers. Thin overgrown shrubs by removing approximately one-third of the canes all the way to the ground. Thin small trees, targeting dead and diseased branches. Early spring is not the time to prune summer flowering shrubs like hybrid tea roses. Pruning too early may cause growth to resume from the plant's base.

Keep it Safe! You are working with sharp tools, falling branches, and dozens of things that could poke an eye out. Exercise the proper precautions for yourself including safety equipment. Use this time to give the kids a break and send them away to play yard games, throw a ball, ride their bikes, and be kids. But keep it kinetic! Note that none of those toys are iToys.

Plan Your Vegetable Garden
Placing your planting plans on paper is paramount to a successful season and harvest. Use graph paper and draw beds to scale. If you are just beginning as a gardener, start small! A common mistake is planting too much too soon and way more than anybody could eat or want. Be sure to plant in a sunny location and in good soil. Adequately space your crops and plant only high-quality seeds. Follow recommended planting dates and garden layout for the vegetables that your family likes best (and there probably is an app for that as well).

Make it Fun: Use Crayons to draw your plans and let the kids color code the different plant types. Then have them create colorful markers for each plant on Popsicle sticks to place in the soil when planting. Encourage young children to plant plastic Easter eggs and water them regularly. In a few weeks, surprise them with fun toys and that ‘grew’ in their place!

At the end of the day you will have spent quality time together and hopefully launched a lot of laughs that can never be replaced, relived or forgotten. You will share in a soulful treasure that can never be downloaded, installed, or updated. You will be weary and share a satisfaction of accomplishment. Your lungs will be filled with the mild and pleasant air that only spring can bring. And, yes… you will all smell like dirt.

Tagged:Green, Environment, Compost, Composting, Organic, Weather, Earth, Planet, Kids, Children, Spring, Yard, Garden, Pruning, Plants

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