Published: Saturday, March 24, 2007
Grab a bag it's spring in the Mahoning Valley
Despite a chance of rain today, this will be the first fairly warm weekend in a while. So grab a mulch bag or a golf bag.
Throughout the Mahoning Valley, the final remnants of winter snow are finally giving way to rain and sunshine. Longer days have cued birds to return to song. And at the Reserve Run Golf Course in Poland, the phones are ringing off the hook.
"They want to know when we're open," said owner Scott MacDonald. "The grounds are still frozen and the frost is still on the ground, but [the frost] will go up quick."
Most of the public golf courses in the area will be open for the weekend, but that doesn't mean there will be a lot of rounds played, especially today. The forecast calls for rain throughout the day, but temperatures are expected to reach the 60s on Sunday under partly sunny skies, ideal conditions for the duffers.
And the temperatures are expected to be in the low- to mid-60s next week.
Out on Reserve Run's greens, the lawn crew is seeding and fertilizing, roping off sections and hanging signs preparing for the rush that comes with early spring's treasured warm afternoons, MacDonald said.
Meanwhile at County Gardens nursery and greenhouse in Austintown, mulch bags are disappearing like hotcakes. Just Wednesday, customers hauled off 70 to 80 yards of bagged groundcover, said owner Ray Mashorda.
"People want to be getting the gardens ready," he said.
Mulching is one of a handful of landscaping chores that is appropriate for late March, Mashorda said. Other activities he recommends for early-season sun-worshippers: reseeding, fertilizing, planting shrubs and perennials. Green thumbs also can get their hands dirty planting a handful of hardy garden vegetables.
"There are certain crops you can put in while its cold; onions, potatoes, peas, spinach," he said. "But it's too early for most annuals and crops. We're going to have a couple of cold nights, and it'll freeze."
Late March also is prime time for focusing on lawn care, as well, Mashorda said.
"It's a great time for fertilizing and for putting down lawn treatments, especially crab-grass preventer," he said. "It's a good time to be grass seeding."
Fellows Riverside Gardens
In Youngstown's long-dormant, 11-acre Fellows Riverside Gardens at Mill Creek MetroParks, the first signs of life are being felt, as well. Here grounds crews have begun cleaning flower beds, removing dead perennials and pruning rosebushes, said Ellen Speicher, assistant horticulture director. But the major effort to bed down their tulips, chrysanthemums, herbs and trees won't begin until later in the season, she said.
"We'll probably start planting in mid-April," she said. "The only things we would plant this early would be herbaceous perennials or woody plants."
The time is about right however, Speicher said, for planting one of the garden's most celebrated attractions rosebushes. Fellows Riverside Gardens won't undertake a major rose-planting effort this spring however. The grounds crews added a large crop last fall, she said.
This weekend could be a busy one for birdwatchers as well, said Patrice Harvey, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited, 90 Boardman-Canfield Road. Last week, store clientele caught their first glimpse of the purple finch, a bird that migrates through the area in early spring, she said.
"It's an excellent time to get the birdhouses out," she said.
During late winter and early spring, birds' food sources are scarce, she said. Bird-lovers should keep in mind that birds are scouting out a place to nest during late winter. A strategically placed bird-feeder could attract feathered neighbors, she said.