This spring lawn care checklist will keep your lawn thriving throughout the growing season
When winter finally gives way to warm, spring days, you'll start to see your yard come alive with blooming flowers, buzzing pollinators, and more greenery. However, harsh winter weather can take its toll on your grass, so the beginning of spring is a great time to give your yard some TLC and get it ready for the backyard cookouts, campouts, and rounds of catch to come.
Spring lawn care doesn't need to be difficult or overwhelming. We created a simple spring lawn care checklist that will make it a breeze to prime your yard for all of the new growth this season brings.
1. Rake the Lawn
Once your grass starts to green up and you're pretty sure your region won't experience another snowfall until next winter, you should take some time to rake your yard. Even if you thoroughly raked last fall, you'll still want to eliminate any thatch that built up over the winter.
Thatch is a layer of organic debris composed of mostly dead plant material that forms where grass stems meet the roots and soil. If thatch becomes more than about a half-inch thick, it can threaten the health of your lawn. Raking will also break up any matted patches of lawn, making it easier for new grass to grow.
2. Water Wisely
Resist the urge to water your lawn as soon as spring starts. Grass roots will grow deeper into the soil when the ground is a little dry, and deep roots help mature grass survive during droughts. The best way to figure out whether it's time to water your lawn is to step on it. If the grass blades don't bounce back up after stepping on them, give them a drink of water.
3. Fill in Holes
Bare lawn patches are caused by things like heavy foot traffic, heavy snow load, a lack of seed, and dog marking. If left unattended, these patches become a breeding ground for weeds, so it's a good idea to reseed and repair lawn patches at the start of the season. If you have many bare patches, it's helpful to overseed the whole lawn, which simply means sowing seeds over existing grass.
Consider applying slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to any seeded areas according to the label to promote new growth. You should also keep any seeded areas consistently moist until they're fully sprouted.
4. Weed Away
While healthy lawns do a great job of resisting weeds, a few weeds are inevitable, especially at the beginning of the season. The sooner you address weeds, the easier they are to keep at bay. If you only have a few weeds, then simply pulling them out by the roots may be all you need to do. But if you have more weeds than you want to pull, you can apply an organic herbicide to get rid of them.
However, not all weeds respond to all herbicides. If you're unsure which type of herbicide to use, you can bring one of your weeds into a local nursery or garden shop and ask for advice.
“Depending on the time of year and type of weed you are trying to control is going to depend on what type of herbicide you will need to use,” says Tara Dudley, owner of Plant Life Designs.
Regardless of which herbicide you choose, make sure to only apply it to affected areas—using too much can kill surrounding grass.
5. Prep Your Lawn Mower
If your lawn mower has been sitting in the garage all winter, it could probably use a little love. Lawn mower maintenance can be as simple as cleaning the top and undercarriage and removing any clippings. But if you've had your mower for many years and use it quite a bit, you may also want to tune up your lawn mower. For example, sharpen or replace the blades and change the air filter, spark plug, and oil.
6. Mow the Lawn
After checking the previous steps off your list, it's probably time to mow the lawn. But make sure not to cut it before your grass looks green and healthy; trimming too soon can make it difficult for your grass to bounce back.
Set the mower so that it doesn't cut the lawn too short. Taller grass will yield deeper roots, helping your lawn resist drought. Longer blades also help keep weeds at bay. The ideal height for most types of grass is 3 to 4 inches tall, but you should research the kind you have to ensure you don't cut it too short. In addition, never cut more than a third of the blade at a time.
7. Edge Your Beds
Put the finishing touches on your lawn by edging any garden or landscape beds. Edging involves using a half-moon edger or a garden spade to dig a narrow, 2- to 3-inch trench along your beds' borders. This process creates a boundary that signals to your lawn that it should stop growing when it reaches the bed.