Spring has sprung, so what better time than now to start getting the lawn in shape after months of cold weather? While summer blooms set against a backdrop of brilliantly colored green grass is a tranquil scene, it usually doesn't come without a little bit of effort. Consider these maintenance, repair, and TLC tips in preparation for having the best lawn on the block.
If you live in an area permeated with trees, you most likely have a thick layer of leaves accumulating on top of your lawn. Think of leaves as a leftover winter blanket that needs to be folded up and put away. Leaves coating the lawn prevent air circulation and allow insects to set up residence in the thick matting. An accumulation of leaves also makes it tough for new grass blades to get through to the top where sunshine and moisture await. To get the spring prep moving in the right direction, rake up all fallen leaves by reaching deep into the turf and not just across the top. This way, when you come across any thick matted areas of grass known as thatch, you can clean that out and take care of two lawn maintenance needs.
For lawns in regions where the temperatures are still cool, now is the time to treat for crabgrass using a preemergent herbicide. This will prevent crabgrass from getting a stranglehold on the lawn once temperatures reach the 60 degrees. If your area has already reached and is maintaining above 60-degree temperatures, chances are high the treatment will not take effect. Ask a representative at your local garden center about the best alternatives to keep crabgrass from infiltrating your lawn.
This is all about allowing the lawn to breathe and get the water and nutrients it needs to sprout and grow. The best time to aerate is early spring for cooler regions and late spring for warmer regions. There are two types of aerating tools: a spike or plug. Spike aerators poke a series of holes in the ground. Plug aerators remove plugs of soil and grass and is generally more effective than the spike aerator. Prior to aeration, the soil needs to be moist. Either aerate after a good rain or water the lawn and allow it to seep in and saturate before aerating. Follow the instructions on the aeration tool, which is available at home improvement and gardening centers usually as a rental item.
Once the leaves are raked, the crabgrass treatment applied, and the lawn aerated, it’s time to feed the soil with a nutrient-rich fertilizer. The fertilizer will provide the soil that has been dormant through the winter months with a much-needed boost. As the fertilizer builds up in the soil and grass begins to emerge, it will have the sturdiness and strength to deal with summer heat and potential droughts. If you fertilized heavily during fall lawn preparation, be careful not to over-fertilize during the spring.
While clearing and aerating the lawn, you may come across damaged areas where there is little to no grass. If this is the case, reseeding the areas is an option and doing it as soon as possible in the early spring is advisable. This allows time for the seeds to germinate and take advantage of the newly aerated soil and fertilizer. If you plan to do a crabgrass treatment, it would need to be done at the latest date possible. If done beforehand, it will affect the new seeds/seedlings. Turf repair can always be done in the early fall, but crabgrass treatment has a small window of opportunity in the early spring.
The last step is ensuring your lawn equipment is up to par. In preparation, tune up your lawn mower and weed eater in anticipation of lush green grass carpeting the area.