As the world outside finally begins to turn green after a long winter, it’s time once again to pay attention to your lawn. Spring is a sensitive time for your yard – the soil is spongy, the plants are tender, and the weather is unpredictable.
Your lawn will thank you for being gentle this time of year, but it will also thank you for addressing a few important spring tasks. Here’s how to go about taking care of your lawn in the spring:
Clean Up – Gently!
Avoid heavy yard work in the spring until the soil dries out – foot traffic and hard raking can compact or disturb soggy soil and damage tender, new grass shoots. Once the soil is good and dry, give your lawn a good spring cleaning to encourage grass growth and discourage pests and diseases. Remove leaves and fallen debris, and gently rake to fluff up and separate the grass shoots.
Spring is the best time to prevent weeds by using pre-emergent weed control, which work by preventing weed seeds from germinating. Pre-emergent herbicides work for about three months, so plan on a second application during the summer.
In the spring, gardeners have to choose between weed control and lawn seeding. Pre-emergent herbicides prevent grass seed from sprouting too, so you can’t do both – the herbicide will be active for up to 12 weeks, which means you’ll miss the spring planting season.
- Warm-season grasses can be planted when air temperatures are in the 70s, soil temperatures are in the 60s, and all danger of frost has passed. Late spring is the best time to plant warm-season grasses. Fertilize in late spring as soon as the lawn “greens up” and begins actively growing. This is usually in March or April, after the last frost.
Other Spring Lawn Tasks
- Aeration: is best done during your lawn’s peak growing season. For warm-season grasses, this means early to mid-summer. For cool-season grasses, aeration is best saved for fall but can be repeated in spring if the soil is extremely compacted. Wait until your lawn has been mowed 2-3 times in the season, so you’ll be sure it is growing fast enough to recover from the aeration.
- Dethatching: also best done during peak growing season, right before aerating.
- Mowing: Begin mowing as soon as your lawn needs it – grass blades do best when you cut no more than a third of the blade’s length at a time.
- Watering: Once your grass starts growing, you’ll need to make sure your lawn gets about 1 inch of water per week. Until then, you can water less frequently but remember that cold air is very drying to plants and lawns.
- Insect control: Spring is a good time to address problems with fire ants. Many other insects, such as grubs and mole crickets, may also cause damage to your lawn in spring but are more effectively controlled later in the summer.
- Lawn Equipment: Sharpen the blade and tune up your lawn mower, as well as other lawn equipment, to make summer mowing a breeze!