Lawn care in spring

Spring Lawn Care

Dethatch

If your lawn is “spongy”, this is due to a buildup of thatch. Mow your lawn back to its runners. This may take a couple of mows. Once this is done, fertilise and water it well, to promote speedy regrowth.

Top dress

It’s also a good time to top dress your lawn if you wish to reduce any unevenness. Mow and fertilise your lawn first and then top dress with coarse river sand, remembering not to cover the entire leaf tip. Once you have your lawn growing at its peak, it will be ready to take on the heat of summer.

Water

This time of the year requires minimal additional top-up watering other than natural rainfall, depending on your soil and location. You can increase water application if it’s dry over coming weeks, but a minimalist approach will often be rewarded with a healthier lawn, with stronger, deeper roots.

A deep soaking once a week will train your lawn’s roots to grow deeper into the soil, which will improve your lawn’s drought tolerance.

Spring Dead Spot

Spring dead spot is a turf disease that appears as bleached patches in your lawn, ranging in size from a few centimetres to over 1 metre in diameter. The fungal pathogen attacks the roots, stolons and rhizomes of couch grass. It’s highly unlikely for other turf varieties like buffalo or kikuyu to suffer spring dead spot, with some rare occurrences seen in zoysias.

Symptoms of spring dead spot generally appear in spring, though it can occur in autumn and winter. Cool temperatures and additional moisture in your soil will provide the ideal conditions for this disease to spread.

Treatment

Spring Dead Spot is quite difficult to control. Evaluate the following:

  • Compaction
  • Drainage
  • Thatch
  • Potassium levels

When you’ve addressed these issues, turn to regular aeration, which can greatly increase the quality of your lawn and enable it to recover.

Fungicides generally do not work well on this disease as they may disguise the underlying problem. It’s recommended to work on the issues above first, then regularly apply a broad-spectrum fungicide.

Don’t overdo the application of high nitrogen fertiliser, as studies have shown a greater propensity for dead spot on lawns that had heavier doses in the previous summer.

Recovery will take time. Stolons must spread into the dead patch, which can take almost the entire growing season.

Follow that treatment plan and your lawn has a great chance of springing back into shape (and colour) for summer.

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7 Spring Lawn Care Tips for the DIY Gardener

By Marty Ross

It’s great to get out to the garden in spring. Birds are singing, flowers are coming into bloom, and the soft, sparkling light makes the world look fresh and new. After you admire the season’s first daffodils, it’s time to start tending to your lawn in preparation for a season of lush growth.

  1. Check your hoses
  2. It’s important to start the new gardening season with the right tools, and a sturdy hose is the most important of all. Gilmour’s Flexogen Super Duty Hose has a patented eight-layer construction which makes it light and durable at the same time. It hardly kinks and can be dragged around without getting beat up. The outer layer also resists UV damage, which gives you peace of mind when the hose is left outside throughout the season. Brass couplings with rubber washers screw snugly to spigots and watering tools.

    When you’re shopping for a hose, make sure you buy a hose long enough to water the whole lawn and reach all of the flower beds. Flexogen hoses come in several lengths, from 25 to 100 feet. (See the “Hose Shopping 101” article on Gilmour.com for a complete hose shopping guide.)

  3. Water the right way
  4. The best time to water your lawn is when it needs it. In the beginning of the season you don’t have to rush. When grass starts growing, it’s the roots that grow first. If the ground is a little dry, they grow deep into the soil. These deep roots help grass survive drought. So holding off on watering at first is actually good for your grass.

    However, if you walk across the lawn and the blades of grass do not spring back in your footsteps, it’s time to water. Gilmour’s Pattern Master Circular Sprinkler can be customized so the spray pattern matches the shape and size of your lawn. You won’t waste a drop on the sidewalk. And with the Quick-Connect set with Auto Shut-off, you can switch from the sprinkler to other watering tools without getting wet or having to turn the water off at the spigot.

  5. Fill in the blanks (with seed or sod)
  6. Don’t leave bare patches in the lawn unattended because weeds will find them. Fill in bare spots with grass seed or with a sod patch. Whichever you choose, first prepare the soil. Weed if necessary, and loosen the surface of the soil with a rake.

    If you’re planting grass seed, first, sow the seeds, then cover lightly with a few handfuls of fresh topsoil and tamp the soil down. For sod, cut the patch to fit and press it firmly into the soil. Good soil contact is important for both seeds and sod.

    Now water well. Seeds must be kept moist until they germinate. You may need to water daily or even more often in hot weather. Use Gilmour’s Thumb Control Watering Nozzle or a small stationary sprinkler to get the job done. Sod should also be kept moist, but not soggy.

  7. Keep weeds under control
  8. A healthy lawn resists weeds, but a few interlopers are inevitable. It only takes a few minutes to grub out dandelions or pull chickweed from the lawn. If hand weeding is not an option, look for an appropriate organic herbicide. Take a weed to your local garden shop and ask the experts for advice. Use the recommended organic herbicide only in the areas where weeds are a problem. Make sure to follow label directions as more is not always better.

    Weeds compete with grass so pull them in spring before they spread or go to seed. This will eliminate the competition and help get your lawn off to a good start.

  9. Get your lawn mower ready for the season.
  10. A lawn mower works hard during the gardening season. Before it’s time to start mowing, have your mower serviced. Technicians will check the starter, air filter, belts, spark plug, and battery. They’ll also make sure the blade is sharp. Dull mower blades rip grass instead of cutting it, leaving a ragged cut that is vulnerable to diseases. Keep your mower clean through the season with a concentrated spray from a cleaning nozzle.

    Rake your lawn to remove any leaves or twigs. The first time you mow, set the mowing height about ½ inch lower than normal, to break up light debris. After that, set the mowing height back up to prevent injuring your lawn and leaving an opening for crabgrass and other weeds to settle in.

  11. Don’t bag it
  12. Grass clippings are a great source of nutrients for the lawn. They are full of nitrogen, which lawns need, and decompose quickly, becoming free fertilizer. Instead of bagging clippings, let your mower do the job of chopping and recycling them back into the soil.

    If you prefer not to leave clippings on the lawn, catch them and toss into the compost pile. The added nitrogen from the clippings will heat up the pile, speeding the decomposition process. You can also use them as mulch under shrubs and around plants in flowerbeds. Spread the clippings lightly around plants to a depth of about one inch. If they’re wet, allow time to for them to dry before use.

  13. Wait to fertilize
  14. The shelves at garden shops are stacked high with lawn fertilizers. However, no matter what type of grass you grow, spring is not the time to fertilize. Giving your lawn a dose of fertilizer in early spring will encourage rapid growth, which means you’ll have to mow sooner and more frequently. It also gives a boost to weeds.

    Cool-season lawns that remain green through the winter (bluegrass, rye) are best fertilized in fall (after Labor Day). Warm-season lawns, which become dormant in winter (zoysia, bermudagrass) should not be fertilized until they emerge from dormancy.

    It’s a good idea to wait until the fourth mowing to apply fertilizer to warm-season lawns.

    When the time comes to fertilize, buy a product designed for your climate and for the type of grass in your lawn. Follow the directions on the label and do not over-fertilize. Clean up any fertilizer on sidewalks, so it doesn’t wash off into streams, rivers, and water well.

Using these tips during spring will help grow a healthy, green lawn you’ll enjoy all season.

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The two simplest tips are to select a modern fertiliser that has a low weight per square metre application rate, and one that only needs to be applied two or three times a year.

For a quality lawn, a spring and autumn feed is considered the minimum requirement.

Ready-to-use hose-on packs are the easiest way to apply fertilisers

Be fertiliser savvy

If you’ve regularly used traditional synthetic fertilisers on your lawn, the pH of the soil can become acidic and less than ideal for lawn growth.

This acidification reduces the effectiveness of fertilisers, which often leads to more freqent use and increased acidity.

One way to break this fertiliser cycle is to apply lime or dolomite. This will help correct the pH of the soil as well as supply calcium, which assists with healthier lawn growth.

Hose-on liquid lime or dolomite is easier to apply than powdered types and is much faster acting.

Zap the weeds

Weeds don’t just look bad, they also create problems. Broadleaf and spreading and running weeds can rapidly cover grass, while painful bindii prickles make a lawn unusable.

And any weed takes nutrients away from the grass. With lawns, prevention is key, as healthy grass will out-compete most weeds. But if they’ve taken hold, there are ways to deal with them.

For small lawns or a chemical-free option, simply dig them out with a long-handled, pronged weeding tool or an old-fashioned daisy grubber.

It’s important to get all the roots, so don’t just grab the plant crown and tug. And avoid shaking the weed to stop the spread of seeds, tossing them in a bucket to dispose of later.

TIP Wear gloves, as some weeds are prickly and others have mildly caustic sap.

Long-handled weeders can be very useful

Spot-treating

When manual weeding isn’t an option, spot-weeding with a suitable herbicide is the best approach for keeping chemical use to a minimum.

Glyphosate or vinegar-based herbicides can be useful, but be aware when using them that overspray can damage areas of surrounding lawn.

Herbicide can be applied directly to weeds using an old paintbrush or a special-purpose device such as a Yates Zero Weeding Brush.

Or use a hooded spray head, as there are attachments to suit many popular garden sprayers.

But even with a hood fitted, spot-spraying is likely to result in some damage to surrounding grass.

Use a selective spot-spray pack like Yates RTU Weedkiller For Lawns, but note that it isn’t suitable for use on soft-leaf buffalo lawns such as Sir Walter or Palmetto.

Selective herbicides

To target broadleaf weeds, clover and other lawn nuisances, use hose-on or granular Weed ‘n’ Feed products.

For large areas, use a concentrated herbicide-only product and mix it yourself. As their effect is governed by dosage, apply only the recommended rates or you may damage the lawn.

If you don’t have a pressure sprayer or for small patches of turf, attach a sprinkle bar to your watering can.

Use a buffalo-safe formulation for a soft-leaf buffalo lawn like Palmetto or Sir Walter. If you don’t know your lawn type or have a mixed lawn, also use a buffalo-safe formulation.

TIP Spray when the air is still.

Green up grass and treat weeds at the same time with a hose-on herbicide

Getting Ready For Spring Lawn Care

Rake

Spring raking removes lingering fall leaves and grass blades that didn’t survive winter. Left alone, these dead blades add to your lawn’s thatch layer. Raking also loosens matted grass clumps caused by snow mold, which can smother new growth.

Use a spring-tine rake with a strong upward pull to remove dead grass. Rake when soil isn’t soft and muddy, or you risk pulling up healthy grass crowns.

Overseed

Fill bare or thin spots in the lawn by overseeding. Late spring is the best time to overseed warm-season grass. Fall is the ideal time for cool-season grass, but in colder regions, spot-seeding small areas in spring yields good results. When you overseed, apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Five weeks after overseeding, apply a quick-release nitrogen feed.

Learn about causes of bare spots in lawns, how to prevent them and how to treat them.

Aerate

Vital for a truly healthy lawn, aeration is the solution for compacted soil. How often you should aerate your lawn depends on soil type and how you use your lawn. Late spring to early summer is the right time to aerate warm-season grasses. Fall is the best time for cool-season types. But if you didn’t get to it last fall, you can tackle it in early spring. Learn the secrets behind aerating; and how to aerate properly.

Dethatch

Spring is the right time to dethatch turf. Aim for early spring for cool-season grasses and late spring to early summer for warm-season grasses. Learn more about dethatching.

Weed

If Crabgrass is a problem in your lawn, apply pre-emergent herbicides to keep seeds that dropped last summer from germinating. Timing is critical for this application. Most product bags have application timing advice. Learn about application timing and tips for using pre-emergent herbicides.

Use post-emergent broadleaf herbicides for perennial and winter annual weeds in warm-season lawns. Treat or dig perennial weeds as they start appearing in cool-season lawns or try All-In-One Weed & Feed. It kills lawn weeds like Dandelion and Clover, pulls kills Crabgrass. Learn more about post-emergent herbicides.

Fertilize

Apply spring fertilizer roughly three weeks after grass starts greening (that usually corresponds to the time following two or three mowings). Apply too early and you risk feeding weeds and creating fertilizer runoff. Too-early applications also trigger lush blade growth at a time when roots may not have started their spring growth spurt.

Water

Spring irrigation needs vary by region. For mountain and arid desert areas, continue watering lawns as you have been through winter, increasing irrigation frequency as temperatures climb, as spring winds build in the Southwest, and if spring rainfall is scarce in mountain areas.

In the North, Midwest and Pacific Northwest areas, spring rains typically provide sufficient moisture for awakening lawns. Avoid the temptation to water as a means of greening up grass. Let it green up naturally, and irrigate only if rains are scarce and grass shows signs of dehydration.

Learn how often to water your lawn.

Mow

Start mowing when the ground is dry enough and grass is long enough to require cutting. Cut at the proper height for your type of grass. Avoid mowing too low. Grass cut too short allows sunlight to reach soil, encouraging weed seeds to germinate. It also favors shallow root development, which makes the lawn more easily susceptible to drought stress. Brush up your skills by reviewing the rules of lawn mowing. Learn why you don’t need to bag lawn clippings.

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.

Types of Grass

Spring lawn care depends on the type of grass you are growing:

  • Cool-season grasses include fescue, bluegrass, and rye. They have two growth spurts – a moderate one in the spring, and a big one in the fall. They go dormant and can struggle in hot summer months, so the focus of spring care is strengthening the plants for summer.
  • Warm-season grasses—such as Zoysia, St. Augustine, centipede, and Bermuda—thrive in the heat and go dormant during winter. They begin growing after the last spring frost and really get going by midsummer.

Understanding the type of grass you have and its peak growing season will help you address lawn care tasks at the correct time.

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.

In areas with heavy snowfall, leftover snow piles can smother the grass underneath and foster mold growth. As the weather warms, spread snow piles out with a shovel to encourage melting.

Controlling Weeds

Spring is the best time to prevent weeds by using pre-emergent weed control, which work by preventing weed seeds from germinating. Your first application of a pre-emergent herbicide should occur just as the forsythia bushes finish blooming in spring – that should stop crabgrass and other weeds before they have a chance to grow.

Both cool-season and warm-season lawns benefit from weed prevention in the spring. Pre-emergent herbicides work for about three months, so plan on a second application during the summer.

Seeding and Planting

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.

If your focus this spring is on filling in bare spots or establishing a new lawn, time your activities according to the type of grass:

  • Cool-season grasses can be planted as soon as the air temperatures get into the 60s and soil temperatures are in the 50s. Plant as soon as temperatures allow to give the seedlings a chance to get established before hot weather hits. Fall is a better time to plant cool-season grasses, so use spring planting for patching bare spots, and be prepared to keep your lawn well-watered during the summer.
  • 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.


Warm-season grasses, such as St. Augustine, can be fertilized in late spring.

Fertilizing

The type of grass you have also influences when and how you should fertilize your lawn:

  • Cool-season grasses: Resist the urge to heavily fertilize your lawn in the spring. Spring feeding encourages rapid tender growth that will struggle to survive the heat of summer, particularly in drought-prone areas. If your lawn is in bad shape, fertilize lightly in spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. Save the heavier feedings for fall, when cool-season grasses are at their peak growing season.
  • Warm-season grasses: Fertilize in late spring as soon as the lawn “greens up” and begins actively growing. This is usually in April or May, after the last frost.

Soil Problems

Spring is a great time to conduct a soil test to find out if your soil needs any amendments. You can apply lime to acidic soil (pH below 6) anytime during the growing season, as long as the grass isn’t wilted or covered with frost. Early spring can be a great time to apply lime if you’ll be planting new grass that year.

Don’t apply lime within 3 weeks of fertilizing, as the ingredients can react and become less effective. Follow the recommendations of your soil test kit and your purchased amendments for proper dosage.

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 at least 1” 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!

Further Information

Articles

  • How To Control Weeds In Your Lawn
  • Top-Dressing to Improve the Soil in Your Lawn
  • Calculating Lawn Irrigation Costs
  • Lawn Mower Maintenance
  • Spring Lawn Care: 10 Things to Consider Before the Mowing Season
  • Spring Lawn Care (Virginia Cooperative Extension)
  • Spring Lawn Care Musts (All About Lawns)

Videos

  • Low Maintenance Lawn
  • Establishing a Lawn
  • Watering Lawns

7 Things to Do in Spring for a Healthy, Gorgeous Lawn Year-Round

Photo: .com

At the tail end of the winter season, homeowners face the sometimes daunting but always exciting prospect of readying the lawn for the warmer months ahead. From cleaning to mowing to seeding, proper spring lawn care encompasses a range of responsibilities. All are important. Remember that cutting corners now could mean that at the peak of summer, you’ll be spending your weekends making up for spring lawn care oversights. In other words, it’s in your best interest to act now. Stay on top of the game to ensure healthy and beautiful grass that demands no more of your time than is strictly necessary.

1. DETHATCHING

Photo: homedepot.com

Dead grass and lawn clippings accumulate and get matted down into thatch, which not only prevents the germination of new grass seed, but also promotes fungus growth and pest infestation. Dethatch the lawn by giving it a good once-over, using either a lawn rake with stiff tines or a special dethatching rake.

2. TESTING

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To grow grass successfully, you need the right soil. Most varieties thrive in conditions that are neither acidic nor alkaline. Methods exist to raise or lower soil pH, but you’ve got to know what you’re dealing with. Purchase a soil test kit for around $10 from your neighborhood garden store, or send a soil sample to your local extension office.

3. CLEANUP

Photo: amazon.com

Part of spring lawn care involves clearing away the ravages of winter. Equipped with your rake and pruning shears, take an exploratory stroll around the property. Look closely for any plants that didn’t survive. Prune damaged or dead branches from trees and bushes, and remove twigs or leaves you find lingering on the grass.

4. AERATION

Photo: kitchenfoodgarden.com

In high-traffic areas, the soil beneath grass gradually becomes compacted and inhospitable to grass roots. Manual or mechanical aeration reverses the damage done. Here, wine cork-size plugs are drawn out of the lawn surface, giving roots room to spread and allowing air, nutrients, and moisture to penetrate the soil.

5. WEED TREATMENT

Photo: .com

Weed control ranks high among spring lawn-care priorities: If you don’t act against weeds now, before they emerge, you’ll spend the summer battling them—and it’s not a fight you’re liable to win. Prevent weeds from even sprouting by applying a pre-emergent herbicide. For an alternative treatment free of harmful chemicals, try cornmeal.

6. SEEDING

Photo: gardenclub.com

On any bare patches of ground, skip the herbicide and opt instead for grass seed. Be aware, however, that if you’re planting grass in the spring, it’s going to need lots of TLC during the hot summer months—that is, consistent watering and regular weeding—and you’ll most likely have to seed again in the fall.

7. EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE

Photo: .com

Before the lawn season gets into full swing, inspect all your outdoor tools, including the mower. If necessary, take the machine in for service or give it a tune-up yourself: change the oil, install new spark plugs, and replace the air filter. Also, make sure to have fuel on hand in preparation for the first grass-cutting of the year.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: The old adage applies as directly to spring lawn care as it does to so many other pursuits. Indeed, setting off on the right course in spring can help ensure that your grass thrives right through to fall, bolstering that curb appeal you count on it to provide.

The lush lawn of your spring-loving dreams is just a few steps away.

Even if your lawn is made up of weeds more than actual grass, you can turn it around with some basic spring maintenance. Try these five tips to get your lawn ready before the weather warms up and the grass (and weeds) leave you in the dust.

Prevent weeds

Proper mowing, irrigation and feeding practices are the best possible weed prevention, but established weed populations require drastic measures.

Use a preemergent herbicide to stop warm-season weeds before they sprout. And even a weed-free lawn can easily be undone by nearby weeds and their traveling seeds, so remove any weeds in the garden now so they don’t find their way into your lawn.

If your lawn has bare spots, fill them in now with sod or seed so weeds don’t sprout and get a foothold.

Start your engines

Much like cars, lawnmowers will stop working without routine maintenance. If you haven’t already done so in the fall, replace the mower’s oil and gas with the types recommended in your mower’s instruction manual.

This would also be a good time to replace that corroded spark plug and dirty air filter. Add a fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from going stale and harming the mower’s engine.

A dull mower blade makes your grass more susceptible to disease with each ragged cut it makes, so sharpen the blade with a metal file when it starts to get dull. Clean your mower often to improve performance and prevent corrosion. If you own a riding mower, air up the tires for an even cut and comfortable ride.

Clear out thatch

You know that spongy layer of dead grass that builds up in your lawn? That’s thatch. A thin layer of thatch is normal and even healthy, because it protects the soil, roots and beneficial organisms. But when that thatch gets about an inch tall, drought, weeds and other problems develop.

Thatch is most likely to build up in lawns that have acidic or compacted soil — or lawns that have been excessively treated with herbicides and pesticides. If thatch is common on your block, prevent it with core aeration. This allows air to reach the soil, promoting organisms that naturally break down thatch. Use a vertical mower or power rake if the thatch is an inch thick or more.

Reseed and resod

None of these tips will do much good without a proper lawn. If your lawn feels beyond hope, consider starting from scratch.

If your existing lawn is an annual one, remove it with a sod cutter. Perennial grasses, like Bermuda or St. Augustine grass, are much tougher to remove, so you’ll likely have to either solarize with clear plastic sheets for several weeks or resort to an herbicide.

Once you’ve dug up the grass or otherwise eradicated it, replace it with soil and a grass variety appropriate to your region. Plan on setting aside a day or two for installation.

Amend the bare soil with topsoil or composted manure, and lay down the sod or planting seeds by following the label instructions. After planting, water it often until the new grass becomes established.

Start good habits

If you’re not already following a fertilizing schedule, start one now by following the directions on your product of choice. You will likely forget this schedule after the first feeding, so pencil in the dates on your calendar so you don’t get off track.

Start the season off right by mowing more often, on a higher setting and in alternating directions. Inspect your sprinklers and pipes for possible breakage — a patch of damp soil or an excessive water bill would be your first clue. If your lawn seems to let into the surrounding landscaping, start edging now to define your boundaries.

A string trimmer is fine for maintenance, but cutting through the dirt with it could get messy. Either rent an edger or purchase a handheld half-moon tool to make deep, clean cuts that persist through the year for easier mowing and trimming.

Related:

  • Your Guide to Buying Lawn Care Equipment
  • 8 Curb Appeal Boosters You Can Do in a Weekend
  • 13 Simple Steps to Prep Your Home for the Best Summer Ever
Originally published April 2017.

Early Spring Lawn Care Tips

Tip 1: Give Your Lawn a Fluff

Over the Winter, lawns will often develop something called Snow Mold, which is just matted down patches of grass that look dead. Snow Mold can kill the leaves but will very rarely kill the grass plant itself. We recommend using a light leaf rake to fluff up the grass, which will improve the air circulation. Once it dries out, your grass should turn green again, as it starts to grow. If you want to throw a little grass seed down to jumpstart the process after raking, that could also help.

Tip 2: Buffer Salt to Prevent Crabgrass

All the snow over the Winter means that there was a lot of salt put down on the roads. Grass doesn’t grow well in salty soils, but weeds, especially Crabgrass love it. Our Aerify Plus contains humates and soil conditioners which both help salt leach through the soil and buffer the negative effects of salt on your grass and plants. One Hose End Sprayer will cover about 8,000 square feet. Pay special attention to areas that are near the street (tree lawns) and try to apply it before a rain so it soaks into the soil.

Tip 3: Use Corn Gluten Meal to Fight Crabgrass without Chemicals

Use an organic fertiilzer that contains a high percentage of Corn Gluten Meal like Good Nature’s Spring Blend. Corn Gluten Meal provides an excellent source of slow release Nitrogen, to keep your lawn green, while also inhibiting Crabgrass germination.

Tip 4: Seed any Bare Spots to Prevent Future Weeds

If you have a bare spot of soil now, it will eventually be full of weeds. One of the best ways to prevent future annual weeds like Crabgrass is to get some seed into the bare spots. We love a Garden Weasel tool for prepping the ground. It’s much easier than a rake! For bare spots in the Spring, a standard Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and Fine Fescue seed mix is appropriate for most circumstances. Good Nature’s Pro Mix Lawn Patch Repair contains a high quality mix of the above mentioned grasses, as well as a newspaper and polymer mulch that holds the seed in place and helps it retain moisture between waterings. If you’re buying seed from the hardware store, look for named cultivars. For instance, “Rebel Perennial Ryegrass” is better than a seed that just says “Perennial Ryegrass” on the label (I made up the name Rebel as an example). The fact that the seed mix has a specific name is an indicator of higher quality.

Tip 5: Mow Your Lawn To Prevent Future Weeds

Your first mowing of the year can be a little shorter than normal. We typically recommend about 2.5 inches in height. As soon as the grass really starts growing, you should raise the blade up to 3.5 – 4.5 inches and keep it there until the late Fall. More Mowing Information

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Watch some Organic Lawn Care Tips and Tricks Videos

Early spring is the time to think about the best way to help a winter-weary lawn recover and prepare for summer’s heat. Some simple steps now can help assure a healthy, thick, green lawn next summer.

  • Clean Up. Clear away tree leaves, sticks and the litter that accumulates in the snow drifts over the winter. Rake away dead grass.
  • Get a Soil Test. Lawn experts recommend testing the soil about every three years to determine how much and what kind of fertilizer your grass needs.
  • Re-Seed or Re-Sod. You may find that winter weather has killed grass in some places. To patch a bare spot with seed, mix soil and seed together in a pail, spread the mixture on bare spot and step lightly on it. Spring is not the best time to establish an entirely new lawn because seedlings will have to compete with weeds, but you do want to stop erosion on any bare spots.
  • Wait to Fertilize. Many homeowners rush to apply fertilizer early, expecting to give their grass a head start. But if you remembered to apply fertilizer last fall, you don’t need more in the spring. And late fall fertilization is better for the lawn than a spring application because it encourages root growth.
  • Mow. When the grass is about three inches high, you can begin mowing. Leave the clippings on the lawn to recycle nutrients – it’s the equivalent of one free fertilizer application after two years. Never mow your lawn shorter than 2.5 inches. Higher lawns mean deeper roots, and longer grass blades shade the soil and discourage weeds.
  • Avoid Weed Killers. If you have a lot of weeds in the lawn, there’s something wrong with the way you are growing your lawn. Shade, poor drainage, lack of nutrients, and compacted soils create weak lawns and healthy weeds. Rather than use chemicals, fix the real problems.

If crabgrass was a problem last year, it’s likely to be a problem this year unless you were able to thicken up the lawn last year. Many crabgrass preventers are available with active ingredients including pendimethalin, orzalin + benefin, prodiamine, and others. Follow all label directions to be sure the products are effective. All granule products must be watered-in to be effective. Crabgrass preventer should be applied before crabgrass germinates. Since crabgrass germination usually occurs shortly after Forsynthia bushes have finished blooming, apply the products when Forsynthia bushes are in bloom in your area.

Unless the lawn has several bare areas and is thin, wait until Memorial Day to fertilize. Too much fertilizer in the spring will cause the plants to make leaves instead of roots and without good roots, the lawn suffers more from summer drought. However, if the lawn is very thin, a dose of fertilizer will help it fill in and crowd out weeds.

As commercial landscapers, people often ask us how to treat a lawn in the spring, and our reply is not as much how, but when. Living in Columbus, Ohio, it could warm up to 70 degrees in February and snow as late as April, so it’s imperative to time it right and wait until your lawn is ready. Too early and you could crush or kill new grass. Too late and you’ll miss precious windows of time for certain lawn applications.

When should you start doing spring yardwork?

Just because we have a few warm days in March, or even February, doesn’t mean you should pull on your gardening boots and grab your lawn tools. Make sure you wait until your lawn is mostly green before you go outside and start raking, aerating or mowing. On the other hand, don’t wait until it’s too late in spring to apply a weed control product or plant grass seed. With spring lawn care, it’s all about timing.

6 spring lawn care tips for a beautiful yard

Knowing these six yardwork steps will help you understand how to treat your lawn in spring. Depending on the condition and age of your turf you may not need to complete all of them, but here’s what it generally takes to have a gorgeous lawn.

Rake

Thatch consists of small pieces of dead grass. If too much builds up it can create a barrier blocking essential sunlight, air, and moisture from reaching your turf. Once the ground dries out, give your yard a deep raking to remove thatch, leaves and other debris that has accumulated over winter. This will help separate existing grass shoots and encourage new growth. If you plan on aerating your lawn, always rake to dethatch first for better results.

If your yard has become compacted in high-traffic areas, new grass will have a difficult time taking root. An aerator removes small plugs of soil from your lawn, loosening the ground and allowing more air, water, and nutrients into the soil. How often should you aerate your lawn? Aerating does not have to be done every year. Depending on the amount of thatch and soil compaction you may need to aerate once every 3 to 5 years.

Test Soil

Pick up a DIY soil testing kit at your local lawn and garden store to determine the pH level of your soil. If it’s too acidic you may need to spread a layer of lime over your lawn to neutralize the acidity. Why is acidic soil bad? Weeds and moss thrive in acidic soil, and fertilizers don’t work as well. Since the pH scale runs from 0 to 14, a neutral level would be a 7. Different types of grass tolerate different pH levels. Here is a chart on soil pH based on grass type.

Spring feeding should be much lighter than fertilization in the fall. Remember, you’re working with tender new grass shoots that are just starting out so don’t overwhelm them right away. Once your lawn is green and the grass is actively growing (usually April or May) treat with a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer. The three main nutrients in fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (your soil test will determine the nutrients your grass needs). Applying a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer encourages growth, optimizes health, and reduces the risk of turf burn and fungus.

Control Weeds

Pre-emergent weed control prevents weed seeds from germinating, that’s why timing is everything. If you wait too long and weeds are already growing, it’s too late. A good rule of nature is to apply a pre-emergent just as the forsythia bushes finish blooming. Use a spreader for even, thorough coverage. The pre-emergent chemical is activated by water and once it soaks into the ground will remain effective for several weeks. Here’s more information about protecting your yard from weeds.

Reseed

Bare or brown areas of your lawn need to be reseeded. After you test your soil condition and correct the pH level (if needed), and you aerate to loosen compacted ground, your lawn is now ready for grass seed. A broadcast spreader makes the job easier when seeding large areas, but smaller spots can be seeded by hand. Don’t seed it and leave it! After you spread grass seed, you need to water and fertilize on a regular basis for consistency.

Can I use a pre-emergent on my lawn if I want to grow new grass?

No. You need to decide between weeding and seeding for the season. Why? If you plant grass seed you can’t apply a pre-emergent because, along with preventing weeds, it will also stop any new grass from growing. You can, however, fill in bare spots after applying pre-emergent, but you must wait 12 weeks for the weed treatment to run its course.

Maintaining your yard through spring, summer, and fall

After you treat your lawn for weeds, plant grass seed or apply a fertilizer, your grass will begin to grow. Make sure you keep your grass cut to the proper height throughout the warmer months to keep your yard looking good until next winter.

How short should I cut my grass?

Some people think that cutting their grass shorter is better because they won’t have to mow as often. The problem is, cutting off more than one-third of the grass’s height is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. In fact, the more often you mow, because you aren’t cutting much off, results in a thicker, healthier lawn.

What happens if I cut my grass too short?

Known as “scalping,” when you cut off more than one-third of the grass’s height, your lawn could go into a state of physiological shock, resulting in brown or bare spots. Why? When you cut grass too short, you are depleting your lawn of essential energy reserves which can weaken or kill the turf. If it’s too late and the damage is done, don’t think you can fix everything with a quick dose of fertilizer. Applying fertilizer will only make matters worse, possibly burning the already vulnerable grass.

Spring is an important time of year for lawn care and landscaping. The calendar tells us that spring begins on March 21st but if you live in Columbus, Ohio, you know this may not be the case. This article outlined various ways to treat your yard in spring and the importance of timing lawn treatments just right. If you have questions, contact Five Seasons Landscape Management, your local commercial lawn care provider.

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