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Spring cleaning, in the parks and in your yard

After a cold March, spring is finally in the air.

At the Lisle Park District, we are looking forward to spring and have many park projects underway in April.

This month, the Parks Department will be burning scattered natural areas throughout the parks.

Fire plays an important role in Illinois’ natural ecosystem and many local plants depend on it. Fire removes all of the dead plant material from previous years, which is then recycled back into the soil.

Through this process, the bare soil is exposed directly to the sun allowing the earth to warm up quickly and giving the plants a jump-start. The bare soil also gives light to all of the small seeds that have planted themselves the previous fall. 

The most important role of a controlled burn at the Lisle Park District is to help control invasive species. In short: these plants don’t play well with others. If left unchecked they would potentially out-compete all surrounding plant life. All that would remain would be a handful of the same plant species.

Spring is slightly different for the homeowner compared to the park district.

If you plan on doing some yard work, here are some suggestions to consider.

When the weather warms up, it may be tempting to prune the trees in your yard, but be careful with spring trimming. If you have a spring flowering tree or shrub like a magnolia, lilac, or forsythia, don’t prune them until after they flower. If you prune them before, you will be cutting off flower buds and missing out on their beauty.

Also, some native trees should not be pruned during the spring either. It is best to prune oaks, elms, and ash trees in the fall or times when disease and insects are inactive.

Spring is a perfect time to work in your yard and also to visit your local park. Soon the grounds will be coming to life with unique spring ephemeral wildflowers. These plants won’t last long, so visit the parks soon to witness the spring show.

Ryan Jensen is the naturalist for the Lisle Park District and a certified arborist.

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