Getting Your Yard Ready for Springtime
Spring is an important time for your lawn. The work you do early in the spring will keep your lawn looking great all summer. In most climates, grass is just beginning to come out of dormancy when it starts to get warm. This also means that the weeds, bugs and grubs are waking up. By nurturing your lawn and addressing problems early, you'll have healthier, greener grass that is more resistant to drought, diseases and pests. Before you jump up to start your mower, check out this spring lawn care guide.
Spring Lawn Care Requires Ongoing Maintenance, so Check Your Soil Healthy soil is the foundation of a healthy lawn. If soil is compacted, lacking in nutrients, too alkaline or too acidic, your lawn won't be healthy, and it won't be able to absorb nutrients or get the most out of fertilizer applications. Homeowners can hire a professional or send a soil test to their local cooperative extension for analysis. Lawns grow best in soil that is neutral or slightly acidic. In areas where soil is naturally acidic, lime can be applied to bring the pH up to a neutral level.
To grow strong roots, grass requires aerated soil. Compaction prevents water from soaking into the ground, which is detrimental to the root system. High-traffic areas and lawns with heavy soil are susceptible to this condition. Most lawns should be aerated every three years. This process removes plugs of soil and grass to invigorate the lawn and allows water and fertilizer to reach the roots. Aeration should be completed before pre-emergent herbicides are applied.
Spring is an excellent time to inspect your lawn and de-thatch it if necessary. Thatch is the straw-like debris that accumulates at the base of the turf and is particularly prevalent in lawns that are over-watered or over-fertilized. Most lawns should be de-thatched every two years or when the thatch covers the first knuckle of your pointer finger. De-thatching should also be completed before herbicides are applied.
Weeds are a lawn's archenemy. These sneaky seeds sprout before you even think about getting out the garden equipment. Fortunately, there's a way to eliminate many common weeds before they germinate. Pre-emergent herbicides and products like crabgrass preventer are applied just before these seeds sprout. These chemicals are effective for six to eight weeks, so proper timing is essential. For best results, apply pre-emergent herbicides when the forsythias are blooming or just before the lilacs and dogwoods flower. Use post-emergent herbicides to kill weeds that are already growing.
Fertilizing is the final step in your spring lawn care routine. Before you apply supplemental nutrients, make sure that your soil is healthy and all the weeds are under control. Apply fertilizer to stabilize growth throughout the season in conjunction with regular mowing. Keep your lawn at a moderate height to provide shade, support a healthy root system and make your lawn more resistant to heat and drought. By completing the right steps early in the season, you'll save a lot of time, and everyone will want to know why your lawn looks so good.