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Natural growth in your backyard can easily get out of control after a storm-swept winter of neglect, and dealing with it sometimes seems like an overwhelming task. However, with a step-by-step plan and the proper tools, you can convert your backyard wilderness into an oasis of pristine beauty. Here are some tips on how to go about a thorough backyard clean-up project:

Make a Plan

Picturing the landscape as you want it to be helps you mark out the specific steps you need to take to get to your desired end result. There are numerous options, and lawns, meadows, trails, and vegetable and flower gardens all have specific terrain and preparation requirements. Geraniums are a good choice for most gardens as they are easy to grow and come in a variety of colors and sizes. You can find a geranium care guide here that even a novice gardener can follow.

Additionally, you need to gather your tools. Wood chippers create useful garden mulch out of felled trees. Stump grinders offer a simple way of disposing of unwanted stumps. Pushed or towed brush mowers tear through tangled weeds and brush.

Collect Debris

Before you begin to slash, cut and trim with the tools, traverse your backyard carefully, and dispose of any unwanted debris. When you have finished all the cutting, collect roots, branches and other refuse, and rake up mown grass so that the fresh grass can grow.

Trim the Excess

Have a chain saw and pruning shears handy to trim back trees and shrubs you don’t want to get rid of. If necessary, hire a professional to help with this step. A standard mower works well on grassy areas. To save wear and tear on the mower, start at a high setting for the first cut, rake the clippings, and then go over it again the next day at a lower setting.

Prepare the Soil

In any landscape beds or gardens that are already established, remove the weeds and trim the borders. To prepare new areas for planting, roto-till the ground to work the plant matter and its nutrients back into the soil. When you have finished, use a covering of heavy bark mulch, newspaper or plastic sheeting to retard weed growth.

Plant New Growth

Once the soil is ready, plant young plants or seeds. The precise time of year for planting depends upon the flowers or vegetables you have chosen, so follow instructions carefully. If you are sowing grass, use a spreader or your hands to evenly disperse the seed. Next, go over the area with a roller. Cover the newly seeded area with bedding straw, which provides shade, keeps in moisture, and prevents weeds from growing. After the grass blades begin to poke through the straw, you can carefully rake it away.

As you are trimming and beautifying your backyard, be sure to follow safety procedures to prevent accidents. Use top-quality tools in optimum condition. When tools break, either replace them or take them for professional repairs. Keep your lawns even and your pathways free of gaps or cracks that could cause falls. Install motion-sensitive outdoor lights so you can see where you are going even at night.