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Your Essential Spring Lawn Care Guide

Written by Amy Okafor Posted On Wednesday, 08 April 2020 05:00
Your Essential Spring Lawn Care Guide Henry Tseng

Tired of looking out the window at your dull, dormant lawn? That’s about to change because spring brings the green with the right lawn care! Take a stroll around your yard and make note of any problems. Once you’ve done that, you can get started on your essential spring lawn care.


First, rake leaves twigs and dead grass and remove snow mold if you live in colder climates. This allows air and sunlight to reach down to the grass roots. Avoid power-raking; go for a gentler approach, using a light rake rather than a heavy one. Hacking away at the ground can damage shallow grasses and remove the layer of soil holding seeds that need the sun to germinate.


You know spring is here when the weeds come out. Dandelions are among the first to rise up in the dormant grass. The yellow flowers, followed by the puffballs, pop up almost faster than you can keep up with them. Hairy bittercress, common chickweed, and henbit are also common winter annual weeds. They spend winter in a dormant state and sprout in the spring. For best results, pull as many as possible by hand or use a hoe. Be sure to get the entire plant, roots and all. Mow before and during flowering to stop seed production. If you use a pre-emergent weed killer before the weeds wake up, make sure it’s a calm day.  Wind can spread the chemicals onto plants you don’t want to kill and into waterways you don’t want to pollute.  If you’d prefer to avoid chemical and hand-pulling, there are a number of natural weed killers, but don’t expect them to work quite as well.


Aerating — making small holes in your soil — lets air, water and nutrients reach the roots of your lawn, encouraging healthy growth. Your best bet is a power plug aerator, but you can also use a manual spike aerator. On newer lawns (1-3 years old), aeration is encouraged twice a year, in the spring and fall. After that, you can switch to once a year in the spring. Don’t rake the plugs; leave them on the lawn as topsoil. Mow over them and they will decompose naturally.


Overseeding is the practice of spreading grass seed over your existing lawn. Cover bare and thinning patches of turf using a mix of seed that includes slow-growing and low-growing grasses — fine fescue or centipede grass, for example. Cool-season grasses such as bluegrass and annual ryegrass benefit the most from overseeding. The process ensures your lawn will stay young, healthy, and thick.


Maybe getting up early isn’t your thing, but you need to water the lawn early in the morning before the sun gets too strong. This prevents water evaporation waste and lets the grass blades dry off before evening, which helps prevent insect and disease issues. Watering deeply and less frequently makes the roots stronger and deeper. But don’t overwater! Perpetually soggy roots can’t breathe and rot, attracting disease and insects. Soil should be moistened to a depth of about 6 inches a couple of times a week. Not sure if your lawn needs watering? Try the screwdriver test. Take an 8-inch screwdriver and push it into the lawn. If it goes in easily, your lawn is moist enough.


Fertilizer is food for the soil. It helps keep your lawn healthy so it can resist disease and weeds. Fertilizing also plays a role in lawn color and helps the grass recover from stress. Grass often needs more nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium than the soil provides. That’s where fertilizing comes in. Wait until the soil reaches a temperature of 55 degrees. Fertilizer is useless on frozen ground. Use either slow or quick-release fertilizer but use it before the heat of summer. Be careful about overdoing it or fertilizing when the ground is wet, or you risk fertilizer burn. Apply granules with a spreader or use a sprayer canister for liquid fertilizer. Spring fertilization usually takes place in April. 


When the grass is growing well, it’s time to mow. The proper mowing height will depend on your type of grass, but for good lawn health, follow the “one-third” rule: Never cut off more than one-third of the length of the grass. Cool-climate grasses have two peak growing periods, in the spring and fall. Warm-climate grasses grow fastest in the summer heat. Mow more often when growth is peaking and back off when slower grass growth tells you to. It’s also best to let the clippings fall back into the lawn. They recycle nutrients so you'll need less fertilizer.

The yard is the first thing people notice about your home and the cornerstone for curb appeal. Make sure the grass is thick and healthy with these essential spring lawn care tips.

Amy Okafor loves a good landscape, and seeks inspiration for the one in her backyard by visiting every one she can in her travels. She writes about gardening and landscaping for a variety of local and national publications.

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