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Spring Landscaping Ideas (for those who hate yard work)

Landscaping is the best return for your money for house renovations, but you don't have to be a master gardener to make your yard shine.

1. Plant one tree. Spring is the time of year to snag a tree and plant it. If it's before the last date of frost (May 5, here) you can buy a bare-root tree. This will save you money and the tree will put on leaves after it goes in the ground. Or you can head over to a local nursery and pick out a tree to plant. Just be sure to give your tree plenty of room to grow up and down: avoid power lines, septic/sewer lines, and branches that will one day overhang the roof of the house. Choose a tree for it's fall colors or beautiful spring blooms. For smaller trees, ask for dwarf or semi-dwarf varieties.

2. Put down fresh mulch. Nothing makes a yard look fresh and ready for the growing season like fresh mulch. You can choose between a variety of materials and colors to give you the most curb appeal. Mulch has the added benefit that for the rest of the year you can enjoy not watering as much or pulling as many weeds.

Mulch by the truck is much less expensive than mulch in bags from a home improvement store. If you have a lot of square footage to cover, you can have several cubic yards delivered or put in the back of a pickup for cents on the dollar of buying bagged mulch. If you don't have that much but still want to save money, split the cost and the load with a neighbor.

3. Clean out spent flowers. Last year's flowers have died back leaving stalks and piles of leaves that will start to rot when the snow melts. This is a prime place for gnats and ticks to make their home all summer, so stop that now by clearing out the beds. Plus, it makes room for this year's flowers.

Some of these flowers will have seed pods waiting for a strong wind to blow them around the yard and spread like weeds. Be careful when you remove them that you don't help them along. You may also consider bagging, rather than composting these remains because they will be very full of seeds (and weeds).

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