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SALT LAKE CITY — Winter can take a tidy yard and turn it into a gray, desolate wasteland. If your yard looks like a scene from the movie "Dune," consider dedicating some time to a hefty spring cleanup.
For those looking to clean up the yard from the ravages of winter, the task may seem overwhelming. To simplify the process, take note of a few tried and true suggestions to help tranform the yard from gray to grand.
Rake the thatch
Every lawn accumulates a layer of what is called “thatch” during the winter months. Thatch is an organic layer of dead and living grass that sits under the growing sod and soil level, according to Penn State’s College of Agriculture. Thatch can prohibit healthy growth and kill new grass.
To help reduce winter thatch, a good raking or core aeration is in order. For the ambitious and energetic, the task can be accomplished with a simple metal or plastic yard rake. Power rakers are also available to buy or rent at most large home improvement stores, and can cut raking time and effort in half.
Pick up the trash
Utah is prone to early spring winds. These gusts can blow trash and debris into yards and can carry in a gaggle of unwanted lawn ornaments, especially along fence lines. Take an hour to two and organize a family trash-gathering brigade. Give each helper a bag and a set of gloves and go to it.
Picking up trash and debris will not only make a yard look fresher and cleaner, it will also allow grass and plants to shoot up uninhibited. Even organic looking debris like dead leaves and stray branches can hinder new plant growth.
Test the sprinklers
Winter can wreak havoc on sprinkler pipes, especially for those first-time homeowners who may not know a system needs to be drained in the fall. Pipes can burst, leading to flooding and large pockets of underground water seepage.
Before running a sprinkler system sans observation, run each station with a “look-out,” or someone who can stand watch and spot pipe problems. If a break is detected, immediately shut off the water and dig up the area around the offending pipe to locate the exact spot of the damage. Pipes can easily be patched, but dealing with lawn that’s underwater is a harder problem to fix.
Prune trees and hedges
During the fall and winter months, some branches on trees and shrubs can die, leaving things in disarray. Spring is the perfect time for pruning as many neighborhoods bring in dumpsters for easy yard waste cleanup.
Remember, pruning is more than just taking a tree-trimmer to your branches. There is an art to pruning that many forget. Cut as close to the branch collar, or the rings near a branch joint, as possible without cutting into the joint itself, according to tree experts on thisoldhouse.com.
Try not to strip bark when making a cut, and use a good, sharp blade to make a clean cut. Discard cut branches as soon as possible so you don't cover growing grass with weighty debris.
Do you have a great lawn-cleanup suggestion? Leave a comment below.