Spring is always an exciting time that is full of frenetic activity as you get everything out of winter storage and ready for summer fun. Along the way, this includes other important chores like getting the lawn ready to grow strong and vigorously green all summer long.
In truth, the right spring lawn care routine will go a long way toward saving you tons of time under the hot summer sun. Getting your lawn off on the right foot in the spring helps stop weeds dead in their tracks before they get a chance to establish a presence, prevent pests from getting a foothold, and helps your lawn take on the perfect shade of green for months to come.
Effective spring lawn care typically requires a multi-phase approach to time things for just the best results.
Getting Your Lawn Ready In Early Spring
As the snow is melting and the trees are coming back to life, you need to take the time to get all your lawn equipment ready. This starts with things like:
Tuning Up Your Lawn Mower
Taking your mower out of storage from the long winter can sometimes present a slew of problems that you weren’t prepared for. What do you do when your lawn mower won’t start? Even if you did your best to put your mower away properly last fall, you still need to do things like, change the oil, clear the air filter and possibly replace the spark plug. Did you remember to charge the battery? Also make sure to clean the top and undercarriage, removing dirt and grass clippings.
A dull mower blade makes mowing more work. Sharpen that mower blade and replace it if it has large nicks or gouges. It’s a good idea to keep an extra blade on hand so you always cut with a sharp edge. Then make sure to fill the lawn mower with gas or charge the battery to get it ready when you need it in a few weeks.
You may even wish to clean the mower carburetor too if your feeling more adventurous. However, If you prefer a hands-off approach, take your mower to the shop, though you will want to do it in late fall or winter to avoid spring crowds.
Clean Up Your Yard
Taking the time to walk around your lawn to pick up twigs, branches, and any trash that winter will spare you a lot of delays when you mow for the first time. It also keeps dead spots from developing that weeds and lawn diseases can exploit.
Repair Bare Spots
While you’re cleaning your yard, keep a keen eye out for any bare spots. If the weather is right, you can overseed them with fresh grass seed or patch them with fresh sod to prevent weeds, pests, or lawn diseases from exploiting the open soil. First, you may wish to learn how to plant seed for your lawn. Water newly seeded areas every day for at least a week, or until the grass reaches mow-able height.
Kill Any Active Weeds
If you live in one of the southern states where the grass stays alive all winter, or spring has come especially early to your region, you need to be proactive about killing crabgrass and other weeds. This includes pest control methods like dealing with fire ants or other signs of overwintered pests.
If you are the sort of person who hates dandelions and seeds them first and foremost as a weed, then you need to be aggressive about removing them from your lawn before they have a chance to expand their long taproots or make seed heads. You can usually do this with a long-handled weed puller tool.
If you are the type of person who can live with dandelions for a few weeks, and you want to be friendly to the local honey bees as well as other pollinators, then you can leave them be. They are the first things to flower in the spring and pollinators coming out of hibernation often rely on dandelions to get them through the early spring until the next flowers start blooming.
Once you see other varieties of flowers blooming in your area, you can kill dandelions with reckless abandon to prevent them from spreading haphazardly throughout your lawn.
Aerating is the act of loosening the soil to allow for better moisture absorption as well as letting nutrients soak into the deepest layers of the turf. This also helps tender roots to spread making for more vigorous growth. A well-aerated lawn can also take up fertilizer easier.
Interested in learning how to aerate your lawn? You can use either a tine aerator, which makes small narrow holes in the turf, or you can use a manual plug aerator which pulls out 1-inch diameter plugs out of the soil. If you have a large lawn, you might want to consider renting a towable aerator from the local rental store. Chances are they will have several models ready early on, and a waiting list a mile long for those who procrastinate. So, make sure to rent one early.
Follow the label directions on your preferred brand of fertilizer to achieve the best possible results. Though, you shouldn’t apply additional fertilizer if you’ve recently applied a weed-and-feed product like one of those mentioned above. We’ve put together a more comprehensive guide to fertilizing your lawn.
Edge All Planting Beds
Early in the spring, the soil is still very soft which makes edging planting beds easy. This is exactly the sort of thing that won’t break a sweat and makes it look like you are “Staying Busy” while you give the kids tougher jobs to do on a Saturday morning.
We’ve put together a detailed guide on how to edge your lawn with a trimmer. You can use a half-moon edger or a sharp garden spade to cut a 2- to 3-inch deep, V-shaped trench along your beds. This will show your lawn where it stops and your garden and landscape areas begin. Recut it as needed throughout the growing season, using a string trimmer.
After your soil has sufficiently warmed, refresh your mulch throughout your lawn. Things like shredded mulch provide a polished finish to planting beds, but it also helps prevent weed growth by blocking access to the sun. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer around your plants. Just use a light hand so as not to cover the top of your plants.
Grub Detection & Prevention
Grubs look like white, C-shaped short worms with bulbous heads. They are technically beetle larvae and they love to chew on your grass’s roots before turning into beetles and flying off to find mates. Late spring is a great time to go after them by applying pesticides that are specially formulated for grubs.
Eliminate Other Pests
Moles, voles, mice, and gophers can also wreak havoc on your lawn by eating the tender roots of your grass and damaging the balance of the subsoil. A combination of trapping and preventive measures often helps. Poison is a last resort and is safer for deep digging pocket gophers than it is for mice that your family pets might find.