The snow and ice from winter are starting to melt away, and it’s time to start caring for your lawn. Spring lawn care is essential to making sure your landscaping stays green and beautiful throughout the warmer months, and it also helps prepare the grass for long days of mowing when summer hits. Here, we’ll look at a few tips homeowners can follow when spring starts.
Check Lawn Care Equipment
One of the first items of business is to make sure your lawn care equipment is in good order, especially your garden hose and lawnmower. The garden hose may have worn out over years of use, especially if you didn’t disconnect it during the fall. If your hose shows cracking or kinking, it’s time to get a replacement.
Your lawnmower is vital to spring lawn care, and it needs to be kept in good working condition. Getting it tuned up at the start of the season can help you make sure it gets the job done throughout the summer without any difficulties. If you want to try to tune it up yourself, make sure you check the battery, spark plugs, starter, air filter, belts, and blade. Giving it a good spraying down periodically to keep it clean won’t hurt either.
Homeowners usually associate raking with the fall when their lawns are covered in leaves. Removing leaves is important, of course, but there are a couple other reasons why you should rake your lawn in the spring.
The first is to break up any clumped or matted patches of grass on the lawn. When grass mats together during the winter, it can impede new grass shoots, potentially damaging the health of your lawn. It may also be a sign of snow mold, which is typically resolved with a good raking.
The second reason to rake in the spring is to prevent thatch buildup. Thatch is a layer of dead grass that builds up between the green vegetation and the soil, and if it gets too thick, it can lead to problems for your lawn. By raking in the spring, you remove any dead grass blades that may contribute to thatch buildup.
Check for Moss
Once you’ve raked, the next part of spring lawn care is to check your lawn for moss. Moss growth indicates a couple things about your lawn, namely high acidity and lawn compaction.
If you see various patches of moss on your lawn, the soil’s pH may be a bit too high. In order to grow, grass needs a neutral pH, so an acidic lawn will be harmful. Fortunately, this can be easily solved by liming. Take a sample and send it to your local county extension for testing. If it’s too acidic, they’ll recommend the amount of liming you’ll need to return it to normal.
Moss may also indicate that the soil has become compacted. This may prevent plant roots from going as deep into the soil, but it’s easily fixed by aerating. It’s typically recommended that you aerate the soil during growing seasons, so it varies depending on the type of grass you have in your lawn. If your grass is cool season grass, aerating in early spring or fall is ideal, but for warm-season grass (which will grow most during summer), it’s best to wait a few weeks.
Fill in Bare Areas – Maybe
If you have any significant blank patches on your lawn, you may want to fill them in. This is done by over-seeding, or distributing grass seed to those areas. As you do so, applying some slow-release nitrogen fertilizer can help it start growing, while applying quick-release fertilizer after a few weeks will help after the grass seed germinates.
Be careful, though—you may also contribute to the growth of weeds like crabgrass. This is why it’s best to postpone over-seeding until the fall when crabgrass dies off. If you have too many bare patches, though, it may still be best to fill those in. Just know that you may have to battle with weeds during the summer months.
A major aspect of spring lawn care involves controlling weeds, and that starts with prevention. Unfortunately, this can be challenging since different types of weeds require different tactics. However, one consistent precaution you can take is to avoid fertilizing your lawn too much.
In most locations, it’s best to restrict fertilizing early in the season and apply fertilizer more heavily in the fall. If you overdo it, it can harm the grass and lead to weed growth, so keep fertilizing to a minimum in the spring.
You can also avoid weeds by applying pre-emergent herbicide. Just note that if you’ve decided to over-seed your lawn, you’ll likely kill off the new grass seed as well as any weeds that may be present. Certain brands of herbicide can avoid this, of course, so it’s best to do your research if you anticipate having this problem.
If you notice any weeds sprouting in the spring, pull them up immediately before they spread. A post-emergent herbicide can take care of them if you don’t feel like hand-weeding.
Additional Spring Lawn Care Tips
In addition to the above items, there are a few other pointers to keep in mind when preparing your lawn for spring:
- Wait to water your lawn until it starts getting dry.
- Start mowing with the mower blades set a little lower than usual to break up debris, then raise them again for the summer.
- Know what type of grass you have in your lawn—warm-season and cool-season grasses need certain treatments at different times.
Many aspects of spring lawn care depend on your location. For instance, if you live in Ohio, you’ll probably have more cool-season grasses, whereas residents in southern Georgia will tend to see more warm-season varieties. Ultimately, it all depends on your location and the needs of your lawn.