Prepare your lawn for Spring by following these 8 helpful steps to assist in its recovery after a long winter. Getting your lawn ready for neighborhood barbeques and barefoot water balloon fights doesn’t happen overnight. In this article, we will discuss the steps you can take to prepare your lawn for Spring-time festivities. From removing debris to fertilizing, we will cover all the essential tasks to ensure your lawn is healthy and vibrant this upcoming season.
Spring is the perfect time to start fresh and give your lawn the care it needs to grow. With these tips, you can make your lawn the envy of the neighborhood.
Let’s get started!
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Step 1: Remove Debris
Before you can prepare your lawn for Spring, you need to clear away any debris that has accumulated over the winter. This includes dead leaves, fallen branches, and other yard waste that can smother the grass and prevent it from thriving.
Use a rake or leaf blower to collect any debris from your lawn. Check with your municipality or trash collector because many times, they will hold a Spring Yard Waste Pickup Day where the debris (leaves, branches, grass clippings, etc) is collected and taken to a nearby composting facility.
Be sure to also check for any rocks or foreign objects during the debris removal process (ie, your neighbor’s rogue frisbee or the tennis ball throw that went awry) that could damage your lawnmower. Once you have cleared the path, your lawn will be ready for the next step.
Step 2: Aerate Your Lawn
Aerating is the secret weapon to preparing your lawn for the upcoming spring season. By creating tiny holes in the soil, water and all the essential nutrients your grass needs to thrive can seep in. By unclogging the soil, you’re promoting healthy root growth and strong, vibrant blades of grass. It’s like giving your lawn a refreshing breath of fresh air!
But why stop there? After aerating, take it up a notch by adding a layer of compost to your lawn. This not only helps to enrich the soil but also encourages healthy growth.
Step 3: Test Your Soil
Have you ever wondered why your lawn doesn’t seem to be as lush and green as your neighbor’s? It could be because your soil’s pH level is off balance. The pH level of your soil affects the availability of nutrients to your plants. If the pH is too high (acidic) or too low (basic/alkaline), your plants won’t be able to absorb the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.
But don’t worry, testing your soil’s pH level is easy. You can pick up a soil test kit online or at your local garden center. Once you have your results, you can take action to correct any imbalances.
If your soil is too acidic (high pH), you can add lime. Lime helps to raise the pH level and balance out the acidity. If your soil is too alkaline (low pH), you can add sulfur. Sulfur helps to level and reduce the alkalinity.
But why stop at just correcting your soil’s pH level? Testing your soil can also help you determine the right fertilizer to use for your lawn. We’ll discuss that more below.
So, the next time you’re admiring your neighbor’s gorgeous lawn, remember that there’s a lot of science that goes into it. Test your soil, correct any imbalances, and watch your lawn transform into a beautiful, vibrant oasis.
Step 4: Fertilize Your Lawn
Fertilizing is another key element in order to prepare your lawn for Spring and promote healthy growth to ensure that your yard looks its best all year round.
But before you grab any old bag of fertilizer, it’s important to know that not all fertilizers are created equal. Choosing the right fertilizer for your soil type and grass type is crucial. This will ensure that your lawn gets the nutrients it needs to thrive. By using your findings from the soil test above, you’ll be able to key into which nutrients your soil is lacking. From there, you can select a fertilizer that will provide your lawn with the specific nutrients it needs to thrive.
When it comes to fertilizing, timing is everything. Spring is an ideal time to fertilize your lawn, as it gives your grass a boost of energy to start the growing season. However, be careful not to fertilize when temperatures are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, as this can cause damage to your grass.
- If you’re not sure when to fertilize, look to nature. When the trees start to bud and the daffodils start to bloom, it’s a good sign that it’s time to fertilize your lawn.
Once you’ve chosen the right fertilizer and the right time to apply it, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully. Over-fertilizing can damage your lawn, so be sure to measure the amount of fertilizer you use and evenly distribute it across your lawn. Lawn care is very region-specific so I would also recommend reaching out to your local County Extension Office (like this one) for the best tips for your specific region.
After fertilizing, it’s crucial to water your lawn to help the fertilizer soak into the soil and reach the roots of your grass. Without water, your fertilizer won’t be effective and your lawn won’t get the nutrients it needs to thrive.
Bonus Pro Tip:
- Look at the forecast and fertilze before a rain, if possible.
As I’ve mentioned several times over, make sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer. The manufacturer will typically show the proper settings you should set your spreader to. If you need help calculating how much fertilizer you will need for your lawn, here is a handy calculator from Omni Calculators.
Step 5: Water Your Lawn
Have you ever wondered why some lawns require more water than others? Well, it turns out that there are many factors at play. No two lawns are exactly alike, and a variety of conditions can impact how much water your lawn needs to stay healthy and green.
For example, on a scorching hot and windy summer day, your lawn will require more water than it would on a cool, cloudy day. The type of grass you have can also make a big difference. Turf-type tall fescue, for instance, may need less water than a bluegrass lawn, but only if it has a deep root system.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that all grasses are created equal. In many cases, tall fescue requires just as much water as bluegrass to look its best. If you’re lucky enough to have a buffalograss or blue grama lawn, you’ll be happy to know that these drought-tolerant varieties can remain green for weeks without watering, even in the hottest summer weather.
Of course, there are other factors to consider as well. Shady lawns and areas protected from the wind will generally require less water than more exposed turf. However, if you have mature trees and shrubs in your yard, their roots will also need water, which means you may have to water more in areas where many plants are competing for resources.
Check out our post HERE on how to calculate how many sprinklers your need per zone.
Did you know that the time of day you water your lawn can make a big difference? It’s a best practice to water your lawn early in the morning or in the evening to avoid evaporation. In fact, in some arid areas like Colorado, it’s a requirement. And don’t forget to avoid watering your lawn when it’s windy, as this can cause the water to evaporate or blow away.
As important as it is for your lawn to get enough water, it’s equally important to ensure you aren’t overwatering it. Overwatering can lead to fungal growth and other problems. So, how do you know how much water your lawn needs? We recommend using a rain gauge to measure the amount of water your lawn is receiving and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
The good news is that you can encourage your lawn to use water more efficiently by taking good care of it. Proper mowing, fertilizing, and cultivation can all help keep your grass healthy and strong, which means it will need less water to thrive.
So whether you have a lush green lawn or a wild and unruly patch of grass, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to your lawn’s water needs. By understanding the unique needs of your lawn and taking steps to care for it properly, you can enjoy a beautiful, healthy yard all season long.
- No two lawns are exactly alike, and many factors can impact how much water your lawn requires.
- The type of grass you have can make a big difference in how much water it needs.
- Shady lawns and areas protected from the wind will generally require less water than more exposed turf, but mature trees and shrubs may need additional watering.
- You can encourage your lawn to use water more efficiently by taking good care of it with proper mowing, fertilizing, and cultivation.
Step 6: Mow Your Lawn
Do you know that grass has different heights at which it thrives? If you cut it too short, you risk damaging the root system, and if you cut it too long, you invite thatch buildup. So, how do you determine the right height? It depends on the type of grass you have. For instance, Bermuda grass thrives at a height of 1-1.5 inches, while St. Augustine grass needs a height of 2-4 inches to thrive. Check with your local nursery or lawn care specialist to know your grass type and the recommended height.
Once you’ve determined the right height to cut your grass, make sure your lawnmower has sharp blades in order to get a nice clean cut. Have you ever tried cutting vegetables with a blunt knife? It’s frustrating, right? The same applies to mowing your lawn. Dull blades can tear the grass, leaving it susceptible to disease and other problems. Make it a habit to sharpen your blades at least once a year or after every 10 hours of use. You’ll notice the difference in the clean, even cut, and healthy growth of your grass. Here’s a great tutorial on how to sharpen your lawnmower blades.
Have you ever noticed those unsightly ruts on your lawn after mowing? It’s a sign that you’ve been mowing in the same direction for too long. Varying the mowing pattern helps prevent soil compaction and promotes even growth. You can mow horizontally one week and vertically the next week. Better yet, create a unique pattern and impress your neighbors.
Remember, mowing your lawn is more than just pushing a lawnmower. It’s a crucial step in keeping your lawn healthy and looking its best. Follow these tips, and you’ll enjoy a lush, green lawn for years to come.
Step 7: Control Weeds
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the weeds that JUST KEEP COMING BACK!? You pull them, and they are back blowing in all their weedy glory within the week. For those weeds that just won’t stop, herbicides can be your friend, but the choices at your local garden center can be overwhelming. With so many products to choose from, it can be hard to know which one is right for your lawn. But don’t worry. We’re here to help you make the most effective and economical choice.
First things first, you need to figure out precisely which weeds are growing around your home and answer a few important questions.
What weeds do you have?
Before you can pick your poison (figuratively and literally speaking), you need to figure out what kind of weeds you’re dealing with. There are many resources online to help you identify a weed. For example, Virginia Tech has a great resource here to help identify your weed.
You can also take a picture from your smartphone and run it through Google Lens. It will search across the web for images that look like your photo to try to narrow it down that way. (Random Fun Fact – this tool also works with just about any item or product you might want to track down. Do you like the faucet in your neighbor’s house? Take a picture and Google can track down that exact faucet and even others that look like it! then you can compare prices, features, etc… Isn’t technology great!? It works with anything that Google has indexed in its interwebs, so give it a try).
If you still can’t find your answer through the methods mentioned above, you can take a sample to your county extension office or talk to an expert at your local garden center.
Finally, you’ll need to determine whether the weed is an annual, like crabgrass or foxtail that live for just one season, or a perennial weed like dandelions or thistles that recur each year from the same root system.
Now that you’ve determined the weed and type, you can start going down the rabbit hole that is herbicides. You’ll want to find a product that has the weed in question listed on the label – this is not the time for guesswork. Using the wrong herbicide can not only be ineffective, but it can also harm your lawn and the environment. Plus, ain’t nobody got time for that.
What is your goal – preventing weeds or eliminating those already growing?
If you want to prevent weeds from emerging, a spring application of pre-emergent herbicides will generally do the trick. If you encounter annual weeds every year in the same location, a preemergence herbicide can be used as a barrier against anticipated problem weeds.
|Scotts Crabgrass & Grassy Weed||Scotts WeedEx||Andersons Pre-Emergent Weed Control|
On the other hand, post-emergent herbicides target weeds already up and growing. They penetrate throughout the plant system and cause it to die. Some post-emergent products are “non-selective,” which means they could harm desirable plants, as well as weeds, so you need to be extra super-duper careful with the application of these products. Products labeled turf-killer and that don’t list specific weeds will kill everything, including your grass. These can be handy in rock areas, but not so good for your lawn.
|Monterey Grass Getter||Jonathan Green Lawn Weed Control||Fiesta Turf Weed Killer|
Are you looking for the convenience of an “all-in-one” or “weed and feed” product? Did someone say less steps!? I’m all about being efficient! Sometimes the best approach is the simplest. If you have the option to prepare your lawn for spring with one product versus two or three, I say go for it!
“Weed and feed” products combine fertilizer with pre-emergent herbicides so you can benefit from weed prevention while also providing nutrients to your lawn. There are even “all-in-one” products that combine both pre-emergence and selective post-emergence herbicides. Just be sure to check that the product is labeled for use on your specific lawn species. This is another case where there can be too much of a good thing, so be sure to check out our post here on what happens when you give your lawn too much weed and feed.
|Weed & Feed|
|Scotts Turf Builder Triple Action||Jonathan Green Weed & Feed||Pennington Ultragreen Weed & Feed|
How much herbicide will you need?
When treating a small area, you may want the convenience of a “ready-to-use” weed control product that does not have to be diluted with water. When treating many weeds across a broader area, though, you may want to consider a more economical concentrated product. In either case, buy only the amount of herbicide you need for the calculated area that you plan to treat. You’ll save money and avoid having to store herbicides safely around the house.
Once you’ve thought through these important questions, read the product labels and select an herbicide that works on the weeds growing around your home. Follow the instructions precisely, and you’ll be ready to prepare your lawn for Spring!
- Be sure to remove any weeds by hand, especially those that are close to your plants and shrubs. This will help to prevent the weeds from spreading and competing with your grass for nutrients.
- Remember to also avoid using weed control products on windy days, as this can cause the product to spread to areas where it’s not needed.
- Wear a sturdy pair of leather gloves to protect your hands from any harmful weeds that might be hiding. Here are a couple of great options that will protect you from the villainous thorns you might come across (did someone say Thistles!?).
Step 8: Repair Bare Spots
When it comes to fixing bare spots, you have two main options: lawn repair products or seeds. Lawn repair products are a pre-mixed combination of grass seed, fertilizer, and mulch that are designed to promote quick and healthy growth. Seed, on the other hand, is a more traditional approach that requires more patience and attention.
Whichever option you choose, be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Proper application and watering are crucial to the success of your lawn repair project. If you’re using a lawn repair product, make sure you apply it evenly and at the recommended rate. If you’re using seeds, make sure you prepare the soil properly and distribute the seed evenly. And don’t forget to water frequently to keep the soil moist and promote healthy growth!
It can be tempting to walk on your newly seeded lawn or to mow it too soon. But resist the urge! Give the grass plenty of time to establish itself before subjecting it to foot traffic or mowing. Depending on the type of grass you’ve planted, this can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
By following these tips, you can prepare your lawn for spring and ensure that it’s healthy and vibrant for all the fun things that come with the warmer weather. From removing debris to fertilizing, each step is important for promoting healthy growth and keeping your lawn looking its best.
When we purchased our home almost 8 years ago, the yard was in ROUGH shape. Between the previous tenant’s dogs and our extremely dry climate (paired with a broken sprinkler system) it needed a lot of work to make it a pleasant place to spend time. We worked diligently over several seasons to get it from the start to where it is today. Don’t give up if it doesn’t change right away! Slow and steady wins the race!
Remember to also enjoy your lawn and take pride in the hard work you’ve put into it. With a little care and attention, your lawn can be the envy of the neighborhood.