Spring has sprung—but has your grass?
After a long and cold winter, you’re likely ready to flex your green thumb and get your yard in springtime shape—from the top of the trees to the soil beneath the grass. Follow our suggestions and learn how to care for your lawn and landscaping as soon as spring emerges to ensure a vibrant and lush yard for the whole season.
1. Clean Up
Gather any twigs, fruit, trash, or other objects that have collected on your lawn and don’t belong there. Give your lawn a raking, too, to collect anything that isn't obvious to your eyes. You can throw any leaves or organic matter into your compost heap to give it a head start for spring planting.
2. Service Your Mower
The days will grow longer, and so will your grass. Ensure your lawn mower is ready for another season of work by having it tuned up. Make sure the tune-up includes blade sharpening so the mower severs the grass instead of tearing it, which can lead to unsightly browning.
3. Prevent and Kill Weeds
Not all weeds should be killed in the same way. If the weeds are annuals, you’ll want a pre-emergent herbicide, while if they are perennials, look for post-emergent herbicides. For tough crabgrass, you’ll need to use both—it’s hardy.
Once the weather is consistently 65 degrees or higher, crabgrass is likely to appear; tackle any that already exits with post-emergent herbicide, but be sure to apply pre-emergent as well to knock out any seeds that haven’t yet sprouted.
4. Mend Bald Spots
If your lawn has some bare areas, apply seed to the empty patches. This process of sowing seed on top of existing lawn is called overseeding. The new seed should be kept moist until it is growing healthily, and don’t be afraid to overseed your whole lawn, not just the bare spots. This can help your lawn grow thick and healthy, and mix in new seed varieties with existing ones.
You can choose an organic lawn fertilizer, such as compost, or opt for the stronger stuff. Either way, fertilize lightly in spring and heavier in autumn if you have cool-season grasses. An abundance of fertilizer in spring can promote disease and weeds, while fertilizing heavily in fall keeps your grass nutrient-rich throughout winter.
6. Mow (Gently)
Mow your grass to a height of 3 to 4 inches, and be sure to not lop off more than 1/3 of the grass blade. Always mow based on the height of your grass, rather than on a fixed schedule; scalping a lawn puts considerable stress on the grass and prohibits deep root growth, which greatly improves conditions for weeds and pests.
Tall grass smothers weed seeds, and a lush, well-established lawn makes it harder for weeds to compete. When things start to heat up before summer, some lawns go dormant, and you might not need to mow or fertilize for many weeks.
7. Edge Beds
Tell your lawn where it needs to stop and where landscaping needs to start by edging your beds with a half-moon edger or garden spade. You should cut a 2- to 3-inch deep V-shaped trench; any dug-up soil (check for weeds!) can be used as mulch or tossed into your compost bin.
8. Get Rid of Pesty Grubs
Grub larvae love to nosh on grass roots. If you spot any in your lawn’s soil, use milky spore powder or neem oil. You can also introduce beneficial nematodes, which are roundworms with a bacteria in their gut that can kill a grub in 24 to 48 hours.
9. Trim Trees
Your tree may have dead branches from winter, and they can cause property damage if they fall unexpectedly. Have a professional tree maintenance company in your area do a safety prune once every two to three years, depending on how quickly your trees grow.