It’s time to think spring and tackle some lawn care! Get sunshine, fresh air, and exercise as a great bonus while getting your lawn on track for the summer months to come. Ease your compacted soil, fertilize, fix bald patches, pick up the fallen twigs, and weed your lawn among other things to get ready for all the new growth. Other than getting fresh air and exercise, taking these steps now will save you time, aggravation, and energy later. It will bring a healthy vigor to your lawn and your neighbors will be impressed with your efforts too.
Some great spring lawn care tips:
- Get your gardening gear ready. Make sure all your tools are not hidden away and they’re oiled and ready to go. Find your gardening gloves too.
- Get out the lawn mower and change the oil, spark plugs, and air filter. Check for rips if it’s a bag mower. Brush away dried grass and debris from the undercarriage (don’t turn the lawnmower upside down though!) and if anything is stuck, a putty knife works well to get it all out. Check the mower blade for large nicks or gouges that necessitates replacement, and have your blades sharpened so they’re cutting and not ripping the grass. You can do all of this yourself or take it to the shop. Later this year, consider having this maintenance done in the fall instead if you don’t want to wait on the busy spring season.
- Check your irrigation system to be sure it’s ready to go during the growing, sunny seasons.
- Make sure you cut and clear and weed before you try to pick up lawn debris or you might be doubling your efforts. By this we mean do all your garden bed weeding and pruning of shrubs, trees, and woody plants first since you’ll be making a mess. Hopefully you have a compost pile!
- Rake off the dead grass and pick up (by hand if you must) all of the twigs, branches, garbage, and other debris that have fallen on your lawn during the winter.
- For both numbers 4 and 5 you can easily use a garden tarp to drop your waste onto and pull it across the lawn to dispose of instead of constantly bending or throwing things into a bin. We’re always happy to save a back!
- Don’t have a compost pile? Check online for great tips to starting a compost pile. It’s very easy to start one and you’ll love the results.
- Soil compacts over time and especially during the winter, so some homeowners choose to aerate their lawns. You can do this by hand with a garden fork (sticking it in 4″ and rocking it back and forth), and there are other tools that take actual plugs of soil out of the lawn. Or you can use a machine aerator rental to get a larger area done more quickly. Essentially, aeration punches holes in the lawn, allowing air flow, water, and nutrients to get into your toiling soil and feed your grass roots so your lawn doesn’t look so weak or die off. Be sure to know exactly where your sprinkler lines or electrical wires are buried before you start.
- Whether you’ve chosen to aerate or not, you can now boost your lawn’s later performance by spreading an approximately 1/4-inch-thick layer of aged compost. Or Scotts® website suggests after aeration that you “Use a soil conditioner product, such as LazyMan Liquid Soil Aerator. This soil conditioner is fortified with beneficial microorganisms that aerate the soil, so roots grow better. The overall result is a lush green lawn and a healthier, more productive garden. Just attach the product to your garden hose and spray.”
When it comes to fertilizing, people choose their own path. Do you begin fertilizing before your first spring mowing or after? The choice is yours. Either way, if you choose fertilizer by the bag, a 1/2 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn is suggested. “A 20-pound bag of fertilizer containing 5 percent nitrogen equals 1 pound of actual nitrogen.”
Scotts® recommends you feed grass with Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Lawn Food to help protect your lawn against heat and drought.
- If you need to re-seed bare patches, do this before contemplating the compost or fertilizer situation. It’s recommended that you loosen the lawn surface (done if you’ve aerated) to 2-4″. Level the soil, then spread your grass seed mixed with compost or fertilizer. Tamp the area to help the seed stay firm while you water that covered bald patch. Scotts® recommends you wait until late spring to patch southern lawns. They also say, “Water newly seeded areas daily for at least a week, but ideally until grass reaches mow-able height. Avoid mowing until grass is at least 2 inches tall or the same height as surrounding lawn.”
For an entire lawn that’s just too thin, you can “overseed” the whole area to thicken the lawn.
- Kill the weeds! Southern lawns are prone to dollarweed and clover among others. Depending on where you are and what grows there, check out products at your local home and garden centers or dig ’em out by hand if you have to — though that might disrupt your grass roots and possibly bring out dormant weed seeds — and nobody wants more weeds. Get a killer lawn by killing the weeds.
- When you’re ready to mow, “Tall grass sinks deeper roots (which can seek out moisture) and crowds out weeds.” We also found this great little piece of advice: “Mow your lawn to a height of 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches, and mow frequently so that no more than one-third of the grass is cut in one mowing. Mowing high and mowing often produces a tougher turf that crowds out pesky weeds and is less susceptible to drought and summer heat. The result is a greener lawn that saves you time and money.”
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