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Winter weather can wreak havoc on your lawn. The cold weather can leave your grass and landscaping weak after the freezing temperatures, ice, and snow. While fall is ideally the best time to prepare your lawn for this brutal weather, spring is also an important time for lawn care. How do you get your lawn ready for spring? Follow these spring lawn care tips to ensure you have a lush, healthy lawn this spring and beyond.
Don’t start too early! While it can be tempting to get out and get started on your lawn as soon as the weather starts to warm up, spending too much time on it before it is green can cause compacting of the grass and soil or killing new grass shoots before they get a chance to fully mature. Best practice is to wait until the lawn has turned mostly green before mowing or aerating. Check your lawn for compaction in the spring. If you find evidence of compacted soil, make plans to aerate in the fall. Aeration isn’t recommended in the spring.
Raking isn’t a chore reserved just for the fall season. Raking in the spring is equally important. That’s because raking in the spring isn’t just for leaves – it also helps control thatch (a tightly intermingled layer of living and dead stems, leaves, and roots which accumulates between the layer of actively growing grass and the soil underneath). More than a 1/2″ layer of thatch is considered excessive. Raking helps break this up and removes it to allow the grass underneath to breathe. It also helps avoid mold and other diseases.
Spring is also a great time to clean up your yard before the high traffic volume of summer. Walk your yard and clean up any twigs, branches, and other debris that may have accumulated over the winter. Rake out any dead grasses you find.
Winter can leave your yard with bare patches as a result of dog spots, neglect, high traffic, or large objects that were left out, such as lawn furniture and toys. These bare spots can be repaired by reseeding in the spring. After applying the new seed, the area should be watered daily for at least the first week and shouldn’t be mowed until the grass is at least 2 inches tall. If your thin grass needs to be thickened, you can also overseed in the spring. After overseeding, water the areas daily for at least 2 weeks. A slow release nitrogen fertilizer should also be applied when you overseed and again at 5 weeks after germination.
Fertilizer with weed killer should be applied in early spring. This not only provides nourishment for your lawn but also allows plant roots the means for strong growth. It is recommended to do a lighter fertilizer feed in the spring and a heavier fertilizer feed in the fall so as to sustain nourishment over the harsh winter months. Too much fertilizer in the spring can lead to disease and can also encourage the growth of weeds.
A good rule of thumb for mowing any time of the year is to only remove 1/3 of the total grass length at a given time. In early spring, cut your grass at the highest setting based on your lawn’s type of grass. Leaving the grass taller sinks deeper roots and also helps to crowd out emerging weeds.
Edging flower beds in the spring helps to keep grass growth from invading the beds. Edging can be done by using a sharp garden spade to cut a 2-3″ deep, V-shaped trench along the bed edges. This edging can be maintained with a string trimmer throughout the growing season and the trenches can be recut as needed.
Herbicides come in two varieties – preemergent and postemergent. Preemergent herbicides kill weeds before seedlings can emerge. Postemergent herbicides kill weeds after they have germinated. The application of a preemergent herbicide should be done hand-in-hand with the application of fertilizer. The preemergent herbicide forms a “shield” that prohibits seed germination. If you apply a preemergent don’t core aerate as this will puncture the “shield” and the herbicide will no longer be effective. Postemergents can be applied at any time. However, you should use caution and read the product label. Some postemergents are selective and will only target weeds while others will kill anything green – including grass, shrubs, and flowers.
Hibernating grubs begin to crawl toward the surface of lawns to chew on grass roots in late spring. Therefore, a grub preventative product should be applied in early spring. It is especially important to treat for grubs if you had a problem with grubs in previous years or if you have a neighbor that you know has a problem with grubs.
Mowing season begins to rev up in the spring. Spring is the time to tune up and clean up your mower to get ready for use during the growing season. Change the oil, air filters, and spark plug and fill it up with gas. Clean any dirt or grass clippings that remain on the mower. Sharpen the mower blade or replace it if necessary. Before your first use in the spring, warm the mower up by letting it sit in the sun for 1 to 2 hours before cranking it. This can make it easier to start after the long winter hiatus.
Lawn care can be daunting. Some people enjoy it while others look at it as a burdensome chore. Whatever the situation, a professional lawn care service can provide you with proper analysis,treatment, and timing which are critical in achieving a green, healthy lawn not only in the spring, but year-round. Contact us for a free lawn care analysis.
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