The weather is warming, the days (and the grass) are getting longer, and the spring lawn care to-do list is stacking up. In many parts of the country, 2014’s long and wacky winter will mean that growing a healthy lawn is going to take a little more than sprinklers and a good mow. AHRN.com has put together a quick checklist to get you started with Spring Lawn Care 101.
When does spring lawn care start?
Let’s start with the basics. When should you start spring lawn care? Early to mid-March is a great time to identify issues your lawn may be experiencing, gather the needed products and equipment and make a plan. There is no need to try and do everything at once. By checking a thing or two off the list at a time, you’ll enjoy some fresh air and have a lush green lawn in a couple months!
What products should I think of applying?
Early in the spring, applying a pre-emergent herbicide to address weeds before they go to seed will cut down on the weed fighting you’ll need to do later in the year. Make sure to choose a product that works on crabgrass! Many pre-emergent products are effective for about 3 months, so make a note on your calendar to reapply weed-killer in the summer. Mid spring – once weather starts to warm – apply a weed-and-feed to jump start spring grass. If you are unsure of the best products for the local grasses, the local Home Depot or Lowes should be able to help you.
When should I mow?
The lawn should not be mown for at least week following the application of fertilizer. Once the grass is growing strongly, mow on the tallest setting. Tall healthy grass strangles weeds competing for sunlight and water. Cutting the grass too short can have a tremendous negative impact on your lawn.
Clean Up — But Gently:
For those parts of the country that have had much higher than normal rain and snow levels, your lawn is likely soggy and late to dry out. Go easy on the yard work while the ground is wet – raking and foot traffic can damage the grass roots while the soil is wet. Once the ground has dried out, a thorough raking will encourage healthy new growth.
Fill in the Bare Spots:
If you choose to apply a pre-emergent, don’t bother with a general seeding of your lawn during the spring. For about 12 weeks that pre-emergent will also prevent grass from sprouting. Instead, focus on the patching needs of your grass. Here in Texas, our warm season grasses like higher temperatures so we seed in the late spring.
Hold the Fertilizer:
While fertilizer may seem like the first thing you should grab on your spring lawn care shopping list, there is a good reason to pause a bit. If your lawn is a cool season grass, fertilizing in the spring exposes vulnerable new growth to heat and sun that it isn’t made to tolerate. If your lawn is in poor enough shape that you feel you must fertilize, try a light application of a slow release formula.
Warm temperature grasses will appreciate a cautious hand with the spring fertilizing as well. You want to ensure that you wait to apply after the last front, in late April or May, as the new growth has poor tolerance for chillier temps.
As lawn care starts back up, it’s a good time to revisit your equipment and seasonal tasks:
- Lawn Mower- tune up the lawn mower and either purchase a new blade or have your current one sharpened
- Watering – once there is active growth, your lawn needs 1″ of water each week at least.
- Insect Control – address those bugs that are common in your area like grubs, fire ants, stink bugs etc…
- Aeration – once your lawn has been mown 2-3 times, address compacted soil by aerating to encourage new growth
If you are currently renting your home, check in with your landlord or property manager about recommended spring lawn care. For more information about seasonal lawn care, including regional specifics, browse Better Home and Garden’s lawn care directory.
We want to know:
What spring cleaning task would make your PCS easier?