Landscaping: How to Get Your Lawn Ready for Spring
This week marks the first of spring: the days are longer; the sun is shining; the weather is warmer. It’s a good time to be outside, which means it’s also time to start thinking about lawn care. If you want to have a beautiful lawn and be the envy of your neighbors, you have to start early. Here are the steps to take in order to get ahead of the game and beautify your lawn for spring and summer.
Spring Clean Up
The first step is to get both your yard and your equipment ready with a thorough spring clean up. You want to have a lawn that is fresh and clean, prepared for optimal growth.
- Make sure your tools are clean and in working order. Make any repairs to your lawn mower and sharpen the mower blades.
- Inspect your irrigation system: Check to make sure your sprinkler system is in working order. Attach your hoses and make sure your spigots work correctly. Look for any holes in your hoses.
- Clear away any leaves, branches, weeds, and trash from the yard.
- Prune and trim your trees and shrubs.
- Edge your flower beds and sides of your yard. Create a defining line between areas.
Thatch consists of organic material, both living and dead, which forms between the grass blades and the soil. Thatch can act like mulch, keeping your lawn moist and protecting it from temperature extremes. However, when thatch is too thick, it causes the grass to suffer from lack of air and nutrients.
Not all lawns need to be dethatched, so how can you tell if your lawn needs it? Try to stick your finger into the soil. If your lawn feels spongy or if you cannot easily stick your finger into the soil, you need to dethatch.
When soil becomes compacted, it prevents grass growth. Grass loses its coloring and eventually dies for lack of oxygen. Aerating your lawn annually loosens the soil in order to allow air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots. How can you tell if your yard needs to be aerated? Try to stick a screwdriver into the soil. If any resistance occurs, you should aerate your lawn. Never aerate a dormant lawn; wait until the grass reaches its peak time for growth, and aerate when the soil is moist. While you aerate, leave the soil plugs where they fall. They will decompose and add beneficial organic matter to your lawn. After aeration is the perfect time to seed and/or fertilize your lawn in order to promote a green, lush yard.
Over-seeding one’s lawn can improve its beauty. Over-seeding is the process of spreading grass seed over the existing lawn in order to promote growth without having to start over. It prevents thinning of grass and helps stimulate growth. Be sure to choose quality seed that is recommended for your climate. Read labels to understand the seeding rates and apply the seed using a handheld spreader (for smaller yards) or a broadcast spreader (for larger yards). Do not seed when it is windy outside, as the seed will spread where you do not want it to go! After you have seeded your lawn, be sure to keep the soil moist with frequent, light watering.
When it comes time to mow, follow a few simple rules to achieve a beautiful lawn:
- Make sure your lawn mower is tuned up and ready to go.
- Don’t mow too low. Remove only the top third of the grass blades. especially for the first few cuts of the season. Mowing too low encourages weed growth, while keeping the blades higher encourages healthy root development.
- Mow in the early evening when the blades have time to recover from the harsh daytime rays of the sun.
- Don’t mow after the rain because the blades will not cut evenly.
- Vary the pattern you mow in order to prevent ruts
If your grass looks tired and brown, fertilizing will help create a healthier environment for growth. Many people only fertilize once a year; however, fertilizing up to four times a year, following a consistent schedule, will create a lawn that is able to combat the stresses of the summer. Fertilizing in the early spring (mid-April) helps to strengthen the roots as your grass begins to grow actively. You want to wait until the soil temperature reaches 55° Fahrenheit. Use a slow-release fertilizer, which breaks down nutrients over a longer period of time. One caution: applying lawn fertilizer incorrectly can damage your lawn. Be sure to read instructions carefully.
Once you have revived your lawn using the above six steps, the most important tool in your arsenal is regular maintenance. Create a simple lawn maintenance schedule that includes regular mowing, watering, and clean up. This will help keep your lawn lush and green throughout the summer, and your beautiful lawn will soon make all your neighbors jealous!
Martin, B. 2020. ”The Quick and Easy Guide to Fertilizing Your Lawn.” Popular Mechanics. https://www.popularmechanics.com
Pennington. 2019. “Why, When and How to Dethatch Your Lawn.” https://www.pennington.com
Pennington. 2019. “Why, When and How to Aerate Your Lawn.” https://www.pennington.com
Scotts. 2021. “How to Aerate & Dethatch Your Lawn.” https://www.scotts.com