First the bad news: if you neglect spring lawn care (and related concerns pertaining to your mower), you could end up paying for it the rest of the year.
Now the good news: you might need to implement only about half of the following tips, depending upon your own unique circumstances.
Raking will be your first task of spring lawn care. You may be thinking, “But we already raked leaves in the fall!” Sorry, but raking is for more than just removing leaves: it’s for controlling thatch, too. A thatch build-up of more than 1/2 inch is considered excessive.
Thatch is the reason why it’s recommended that, when you rake leaves in the fall, you make the effort to rake deeply. Don’t just skim the surface so as merely to remove the leaves. A deep raking will remove thatch, too, allowing you to kill two birds with one stone. Even if you followed this advice in fall, a spring raking is still recommended as it will remove grass blades that died over the winter — dead blades that are just waiting to become thatch.
Check for Compaction
If your lawn is subject to high levels of traffic year after year, it may eventually start to show signs of decline. In such cases, your lawn is probably suffering from compacted soil.
Lawn aeration is the remedy for compaction. Usually the experts recommend postponing lawn aeration until fall. But if during your “spring lawn checkup”, you become aware of compaction, at least you can plan on setting aside some time in the fall to take care of it. In dire cases or if you can not wait until fall, spring aeration is fine.
Is your lawn riddled with bare patches due to dog spots, heavy traffic, or neglect? If so, you may need to apply grass seed to fill in those bare patches.
This solution is known as “overseeding.” Apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer when you overseed. Five weeks after the grass germinates, apply a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer.
However, spring isn’t the very best time for overseeding lawns. Fall is the preferred time when the new grass won’t have to compete with crabgrass, which is killed off by autumn frosts. So postpone overseeding until fall, unless your situation is dire.
Many experts recommend a lighter feeding in spring and a heavier one in late fall for the types of lawn grasses known as “cool-season grasses.” Too much fertilizer in spring can lead to disease and weed problems. And if you have already fertilized in late fall, your lawn is still “digesting” that fertilizer in spring.
For those who prefer weed-free lawns, spring grass care is as much about weed prevention as it is about fostering healthy lawn growth. Novices are often surprised to learn that not all lawn weeds are battled in the same manner. Depending upon whether a weed is an annual or perennial, you will use a preemergent herbicide or a post-emergent herbicide against it (although landscapers commonly use both preemergent and post-emergent crabgrass killers — an indication of how tough that weed is to battle).
Apply Preemergent Herbicides
If you know that you have a problem with the annual weed, crabgrass, then fertilization in spring should go hand in hand with the application of preemergent herbicides. As their name suggests, preemergent herbicides address weed control, not after the fact, but before their seedlings can even emerge. Preemergent herbicides accomplish this by forming something of a “shield” that inhibits seed germination. Don’t undertake core aeration after applying preemergent herbicides: to do so would be to “puncture” this shield, thereby decreasing its effectiveness.
Crabgrass begins its assault on lawns in spring when its seeds germinate. Overseeding should be carried out in autumn, rather than spring, based in part on the threat posed by a spring crabgrass invasion. “So why not just begin by killing the crabgrass first with a pre-emergent herbicide?” perhaps you ask. Well, the trouble is that most preemergent herbicides work against not only weed seeds, but grass seeds as well!
You can appreciate the dilemma here. Overseeding is incompatible with the application of most preemergent herbicides. Yet, faced with competition from crabgrass in spring, you may find it difficult to establish your new grass. So while it’s still possible to overseed in spring, it’s simply easier to do so in fall. There will be no competition from crabgrass then because the fall frosts kill off crabgrass.
Apply Postemergent Herbicides (Or Pull Weeds)
Keep an eye out for the emergence of the perennial weed, dandelion during the spring season, unless you find the presence of their cheerful yellow flowers in your lawn desirable. At the very least, you’ll want to snap off their flower stems before they produce seed. If you’re more ambitious, you can dig them out by the roots. Spraying dandelion weeds with post-emergent herbicides is more effective in fall than in spring. If you do choose to spray, select an herbicide for broadleaf weeds.
Tune Up Existing Lawn Mowers
Besides proper spring grass care, there’s more you need to do to get ready for a summer filled with lawn mowing. Don’t neglect preparations concerning the lawn mower itself.
No other power equipment is as intimately associated with and essential to landscaping as the lawn mower. You need to have one that will consistently get the job done without any hassles throughout the lawn mowing season.
Mowing the lawn all summer can be tiring enough, right? Why make it more difficult on yourself by putting up with a lawnmower that doesn’t start up immediately? When your unit is stubborn about starting up, that can be a sign that it needs a tuneup.
Although it’s often possible to get by without one, it is recommended that you get a mower tuneup each year. Don’t put it off till summer. Do it yourself or have a professional do it for you.
A New Lawn Mower, perhaps?
Maybe you’re fed up with your old lawnmower… Is it time for a change? Chances are we have something that would suit your needs.
Your Lawn Awaits…
Whichever way you decide to go – remember that every lawn is a work in progress. So what are you waiting for? Your lawn needs your help! 🙂