Temperatures are warming, birds are chirping and snow is melting... spring is finally here folks, and it's shaping up to be a great one! As soon as the ground is dry and green shoots of all varieties begin popping up, it’s time to get outside and prepare. Here are 5 things you can do this season to maximize your investment of time and money to have the lawn of your dreams this summer.
Raking your lawn in the spring is not a sign that you were lazy last fall. Even if you chased every leaf that blew onto your lawn last year, your yard will benefit from a good raking. Once the grass has begun to grow and the ground is dry, that’s the time to get out the rake and gather up anything left over from last season. Raking helps to separate grass shoots so your lawn grows evenly and spreads, breaks up thin patches of thatch, and discourages mold and decay. This annual spring once over will help you identify ruts and bumps in your lawn for later treatment and where overseeding is needed.
Fertilizing early in the spring is a great idea to help promote a thick healthy lawn. If you’re not sure, always ask for assistance on which type of fertilizer to use, as the wrong one can damage your lawn. It’s tempting to get out extra early and give your lawn a head start, but applying fertilizer too early or too late minimizes the impact. Wait until your grass begins growing actively which (seed types vary somewhat) will happen when soil temperatures predictably reach more than 17 degrees.
Aeration helps promote circulation and water penetration for better nutrient absorption and root growth, and fights compaction. While it’s obvious to aerate the high traffic areas, your entire lawn will benefit from this treatment. For best results, the ground should be thawed fully so aerator tines penetrate the soil to maximum depth. If the ground isn’t fully thawed, the aerator just scratches the surface of your bringing only minimal benefit.
Overseeding is an important next step after aeration. Opening up pockets for growth and nutrients in your lawn is great, but not if you leave those spots open for weeds. Different types of grass seed tolerate the cold more, but in general seed that undergoes repeated freeze thaw cycles is prone to rot and won’t grow. Keep this in mind when planning when to plant grass seed.
Nothing smells like spring like that first time cutting the lawn. Mowing your lawn in the spring is a great tip that some overlook, but don’t cut your grass too short. Keeping your mower on the lowest setting promotes weeds and stunts root growth. Taller grass has a better root system, tolerance for heat, and helps keep essential moisture in the soil.