Spring is the perfect time to get your lawn ready for summer picnics, cookouts, and time spent outdoors with friends and family. The exact timing for completing lawn care tasks will depend on your region and your climate. For example, if you live in the northern region of the United States, you may need to wait until later in the year to begin working in your yard to ensure the snow season has passed. Conversely, those who live in the deep south can begin as soon as the crocus and daffodils begin peeking their heads from the earth.
No matter when you begin your spring lawn care routine, there are certain tasks that should be completed to ensure a beautiful, healthy lawn. These eight lawn care tasks should be completed each spring.
If your lawn is subject to heavy traffic, the soil can become compacted. Carefully look at your lawn, if you notice moss, your soil has more than likely become compacted. One way to improve your lawn health and rid your lawn of moss is to aerate the soil.
A lawn aerator is designed to piece the turn so that water and air can reach the roots of your grass. You can rent a large aerator from your local hardware store or farm cooperative if you have a large lawn. If, on the other hand, you have a small lawn, you can use a hand aerator. If your soil contains a large amount of clay, you will need a heavy-duty lawn aerator.
Although spring isn't the best time to aerate the lawn, it may be necessary. If your soil is so compacted that your existing grass cannot grow, you need to aerate it in the springtime. Spring aeration is typically discouraged because it can allow weeds to take root. Weeds like crabgrass and dandelions are the first seeds to germinate in the springtime. If you need to aerate your lawn in the spring, try doing it on Memorial Day weekend as the weeds have not gone to seed yet.
A lawn with bare spots due to heavy traffic, neglect, or animals looks terrible. Luckily, you can fill in those bare spots by replanting grass seeds. Overseeding is the term used to describe sowing seed over an existing lawn.
For best results, you will want to apply a starter fertilizer (a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer) to your lawn when you overseed. In addition to this, you will need to keep the soil moist until the seeds have sprouted and begun growing. Once the grass has begun to grow, you can fertilize it as usual with a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer.
Although you can apply seed to only the bare areas, most homeowners prefer to overseed the entire yard to make sure the grass remains thick and healthy-looking. Additionally, overseeding allows you to introduce new grass varieties to your lawn. For example, if you had large shade trees and have had them pruned or removed, the shade-loving grass may not be doing as well as it once did. Overseeding will allow you to plant sun-loving grass seeds to keep your lawn looking great.
The best time to plant grass seed is in the fall; however, if your lawn needs it, you can overseed in the springtime. However, you must be prepared to battle weeds as your grass comes up and gets established.
Moss in your lawn can also be a sign of acidic soil. Grass prefers neutral pH soil. If your soil is too acidic or too alkaline, it can impact the health of your lawn. The pH of neutral soil is 7. If the pH level is less than 7, the soil is acidic. Conversely, if the pH level is higher than 7, then the soil is alkaline.
If your soil is not neutral, you will need to amend it to get it to the optimal pH level for healthy grass. For example, if your soil is acidic, you will need to add ground limestone to reduce the acidity of the soil. Before adding any type of soil amendment, you should send a soil sample to your local extension office. They will tell you how much limestone you should spread per square foot. In order to apply the ground limestone, you will need a fertilizer drop spreader like this one (https://www.amazon.com/Scotts-Turf-Builder-Classic-Spreader/dp/B002ZTK09U/ref=sr_1_4?crid=2UMUBZHTIF25T&keywords=fertilizer%2Bdrop%2Bspreader&qid=1650473069&s=lawn-garden&sprefix=fertilizer%2Bdrop%2Bspreader%2Clawngarden%2C95&sr=1-4&th=1).
If your soil is too alkaline, you can increase the acidity level to bring it to a neutral pH level. One of the best ways to do this is to either top dress the lawn with elemental sulfur or compost. Either of these will lower the pH level to make it suitable for a healthy lawn.
Raking prepares your lawn for the new, annual growth. The raking completed in spring is much different than the raking done to remove fallen leaves from the ground. Deep raking is used to remove thatch and break up any remnants of grass from last year's growing season.
Deep raking removes the dead tissue (thatch) lying between the soil, the roots, and the green vegetation. Grass is actually vulnerable and tender; therefore, you must do what is needed to help give it the best start. Deep raking helps new grass establish deep roots for optimal growth.
Many people deep rake using a metal garden rake with stiff tines. This can actually damage your grass seedlings. Instead, use a flexible leaf rake. This rake will lift out thatch without disturbing the soil and damaging the roots of this year's grass.
Lawns can be fertilized using compost or lawn clippings. These organic items will slowly break down and fertilize the lawn. If you need faster results, you may wish to use a chemical fertilizer. Although fertilizer can be applied at any time of the year, experts recommend fertilizing lightly in the spring and heavier in the fall. If you put too much fertilizer on your lawn in the springtime, it can cause weed problems and lead to disease. Furthermore, if you fertilized heavily in the fall, the lawn would still have fertilizer that can feed your grass throughout the spring.
Lawnmowers require regular tune-ups to keep them in tip-top shape. First, check the oil, spark plugs, and belts for any wear and tear. If any belts are loose or have signs of fraying, change them immediately.
Inspect your mower blades. Mower blades take a beating and can become bent or dull. Each spring, you should sharpen your mower blades. A sharp blade ensures the grass is cut rather than being torn. Grass that is torn develops ragged brown tips rather than a beautiful green lawn.
If you want a weed-free lawn, it is imperative that you perform weed prevention in the early spring. A pre-emergent herbicide fights weeds before they begin to grow in the early spring. Post-emergent herbicides are used once the weeds begin to grow.
Pre-emergent herbicides work by forming a chemical barrier on the top layer of soil. This barrier coats seeds and prevents them from developing roots. Pre-emergent herbicides should be applied before outdoor temperatures reach 65 degrees. Crabgrass and other weeds begin growing when temperatures remain in the mid-sixties for a few days. Pre-emergent herbicides not only prevent weeds but also prevents grass seeds from taking root. Therefore, you should avoid using a pre-emergent weed killer if you are planning on overseeding your lawn in the spring.
Post-emergent weed killers are designed to rid your lawn of dandelions and other broadleaf weeds. These herbicides can be applied to the entire lawn, or you can use them to spot treat troublesome areas. We recommend spot treating unless the entire lawn is overgrown with weeds. For best results, spot treat when the lawn is beginning to green up and continue spot treating as necessary whenever weeds show up.
If you want your lawn to be the envy of the neighborhood, give us a call. We can help tackle your lawn and make it the envy of the neighborhood. These top eight spring tasks will ensure you have a lush, green lawn that is ready for those fun summer barbecues, family picnics, and time spent outdoors. As soon as the temperatures begin climbing, spend some time outdoors overseeding, fertilizing, and removing those pesky weeds.