A blanket of fresh snow over a Pennsylvania farm or patch of forest is an incredibly beautiful scene. Though it is not met with as much enthusiasm by the last week of March, it is still a pretty picture. Unfortunately, some of these landscapes too often look like landfills and scrap yards before the snow falls or after it melts.
So as the snow finally melts away (hopefully for the last time) it is a good time to think about how we can help clean up the mess left behind by Old Man Winter and his more malicious human cohorts in crime. Sweep away that antiskid. A great place to start your cleanup is on your sidewalk and the street in front of your house. Rather than a noisy, air-polluting gas-guzzling leaf blower or a water-wasting hose, try a stiff-bristled broom to sweep up all that stuff that was spread around to keep you from sliding into your front yard. (Hardcore recyclers can save the grit for next year’s driveway antiskid.)
Pickup the litter. I know. You didn’t put it there so why should you have to pick it up? I guess for the same reason you wash your family’s clothes – you want things to look nice and it makes you proud when they do. (Hardcore environmentalists won’t only recycle the litter they can, they’ll even participate in cleanup projects away from home.)
Trim the trees. Spring is a good time to trim most trees. Elm, ash and oak are the exceptions because of Dutch elm disease, oak wilt disease and the dreaded ash borer. Otherwise, early spring is a good time to prune because the upcoming rapid growth means pruning wounds will heal more quickly. Be sure to cut as close to the juncture of two branches as possible, so as to encourage the bark to grow over the wound. Never top a tree, as it leads to weakened branches and increased chances of insect attacks and disease.
Retire that burn barrel. Don’t get burned up over your trimmings or your trash. Spring curbside yard waste collection is now sponsored by many municipalities. The composting facilities at the Buckhorn (open every day but Sunday and Wednesday) and south of Duncansville (open every Tuesday noon to five) accept nearly all your yard waste. Smaller facilities are also available for residents of Martinsburg, Bellwood and Antis Township.
Fix that grass. Take stock of your lawn and renovate those problem patches. When you get out the mower, pull the deck up a setting or two so you are cutting the grass a bit higher. Higher grass is healthier grass that is more tolerant of drought and discourages broadleaf weeds like dandelion and plantain. (If you’d like to avoid toxic weed and feeds or broadleaf herbicides, try the corn gluten products that naturally suppress weed seed sprouting.)
Plant something new. Spring is the very best time to do most planting. Consider planting something sweet and edible. Homegrown raspberries, seedless grapes and strawberries are nothing like their namesakes shipped across the continent.
Your springtime investment will help us make a community that we can be proud of, even after the snow melts.