Even though the snow is still falling in many parts of the country, spring is just around the corner. If you are planning on putting out a garden, or just want to get your lawn looking top-notch for summer, there are things you can do now to get started and make sure that your lawn is at its best. Did you know that Americans spend an average of $6.4 billion on their lawns annually? We’ve got some spring lawn care tips to help you get started looking your best!
Addressing Problem Areas
If your winter has been mild, and your lawn has “weathered” it well, then a light raking to clean up debris may be all that you need. Depending on where you live and how difficult your winter has been, your lawn may have taken a beating. Issues such as uneven ground, soil compaction and thatch can make your lawn difficult to maintain, and cause problems with maintenance.
- Uneven ground: Uneven ground can cause poor drainage, leaving you with spongy ground that never properly drains. You can also have problems with erosion and your mower may have trouble with high spots, “scalping” them and leaving them vulnerable to scorching in the hot sun. To remedy this problem, cut away raised areas and use the dirt to fill in low spots.
- Soil compaction: High traffic areas are particularly vulnerable to soil compaction. When the soil becomes densely packed, grass cannot grow well, the ground cannot absorb water and hardier weeds can take root and take over. Aerating the soil can remedy this problem. Aerating the soil removes tiny plugs of dirt from your yard, allowing water and see to penetrate well and letting the ground break up naturally.
- Thatch: Thatch is “a tangle of above-ground roots such as Bermuda grass and Hosta, a type of ground cover”. Thatch can make it difficult for water and important nutrients to reach the soil underneath, causing the ground to become dry and unworkable.
Once you’ve addressed the problem areas in your lawn, you may notice bare spots. Now is the perfect time to reseed your lawn, ensuring that it is lush and green for the summer.
- Soil test. Before you reseed your lawn, you need to know what nutrients are missing from the soil. Your County Extension office can perform a soil test that will tell you what nutrients are deficient, and they will recommend a fertilizer or treatment protocol that will replace these.
- Grass seed. Before you purchase grass seed, do some research and find out what varieties grow well in your area of the country. We offer tips on which grasses to plant where, and when it is best to sow them, taking into account the amount of sunlight and rain you typically get in your area.
- Planting. Grass seed can be sown by hand if the area is relatively small, or by using a broadcast spreader (which can be rented from a local tool supply company) for larger plots of land. Make sure you water the seed regularly to ensure that it grows well, and refrain from cutting it for the first time until it is 3″-4″ in height.
Fertilizer can help your lawn grow lush and green, however it is important to choose the right combination and amount. Too much fertilizer can actually burn your lawn and destroy the grass that you have worked so hard to care for. Your County Extension office can recommend a good mixture for your lawn, and many hardware stores have a Lawn and Garden department that can also help you choose the proper product.
Cutting your Grass
We all have the pictures in our head. The grumpy teenager reluctantly pushing the mower across the grass, headphones jammed in his ears and music blaring. It might surprise you to know that there is more to cutting your lawn properly than just pushing the mower around the grass.
Cutting your grass too short exposes it to more sunlight and runs the risk of burning the tops. Leaving it too long may keep water and other nutrients from reaching the soil. You should remove no more than 1/3 of the blade when you cut it, to ensure that it grows properly.
Don’t forget to lawn mowing during the fall lawn care during autumn too.
Water is essential to proper growth, but you must do it properly. Watering at the right time of day and making sure you don’t give too much or too little water are very important.
- Time of day. It is advisable to water your grass in the early morning or after the sun goes down. Watering in the middle of the day, when the sun is directly overhead and at it’s hottest can cause your tender grass blades to burn. In addition, the sun will cause the water to evaporate before it reaches the soil, resulting in dry, lifeless grass.
- Amount. Overwatering your lawn can cause the water to pool on the oil and run off, meaning that the root system isn’t getting the moisture that it so desperately needs. And not watering it enough will cause dry, parched grass that can be quite expensive to fix, especially if it is a large lawn.
These are some spring lawn care tips to help you get started on your spring lawn, to ensure that you have a lush, green carpet of healthy grass when summer arrives.
If you have any tips that you would like to add, or have things that have worked particularly well for you, please tell us about them in the comments below.