So we thought that summer was just around the corner.
Weeks of balmy temperatures led to a plethora of white legs sticking out of shorts, flies being cast on the Animas, and open windows and doors, letting in the warmth of spring that we had previously forgotten.
The amazing thing is, all this occurred solely at the Parmenter house.
Then, April came around and the snow fell again and temperatures dropped back into the teens. The reminder that spring in Colorado is a crapshoot was quickly fortified. But as we get closer to May, more chores arise in the yard and garden as that pile of snow on the north side of the house becomes a playground for my kids rather than the eyesore it had been.
I recently read that the city of Durango announced the dates for the spring cleanup. Finally, a chance to get rid of the Christmas tree! Even though this is a fantastic service the city performs, I caution people to equate "cleanup" with "pruning the heck out of the trees and shrubs."
The ideal time to prune deciduous trees (ones that drop their leaves) is late in the dormant season (February and March) or midsummer after a growth flush. You can determine this growth flush when the leaves "harden" and turn dark green.
During April and early May, the leaf and flower buds of deciduous trees start to swell. Some trees do this earlier than others, and even now we are seeing some trees and shrubs starting to leaf out.
As these trees begin their spring growth flush, almost all of their carbohydrate reserves - stored in their roots through winter - go toward this new growth. So if we get in there all pruner-happy and take out that new growth, then that tree or shrub starts the season under significant stress.
If the part of the tree or shrub is already dead, then you can go ahead and take it out. But if not, then I would recommend waiting a while - don't forget, there is always the fall cleanup.
For those of you with lawns, April can also be a busy month. If your lawn has a layer of thatch - the layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots that develops between the soil surface and the green-leaf grass - an inch or so thick, then you may want to use a core cultivator (aerator).
This machine, which pulls out plugs of soil, thatch and grass, can greatly improve the infiltration of water in compacted soils. Even though it may look like a flock of geese just landed on your lawn and had a poop-party, it really is a valuable process. Just make sure that enough passes are made over the area to make plug holes at 2-inch centers.
Lastly, right now is a great time to seed (or overseed) your cold-season grass lawn. Cold-season grasses are Kentucky bluegrass, fescues and perennial ryegrass.
So have fun with spring and go get some sun on those legs.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464.
Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.