A beautiful lawn starts with spring preparation, some maintenance, and selecting the right grass seed. Proper attention to lawn care keeps it growing and looking its best. Spring is a sensitive time for your yard. The soil could be wet and spongy or dry and hard. And of course, the weather is unpredictable.
Getting Started With Spring Lawn Care
You should probably avoid heavy yard work in the spring until the soil dries out. Excess foot traffic and raking can compact or disturb soil and damage new grass shoots. Once the soil is good and dry, give your lawn a good spring cleaning to encourage grass growth and discourage pests and diseases.
In areas that saw heavy snowfall, leftover snow piles can smother the grass underneath and foster mold growth. As the weather warms, spread snow piles out to help melting and start new growth. Let the soil dry out before beginning your spring lawn care chores. Foot traffic on wet soil will cause soil compaction problems.
Spring is the best time to prevent weeds by using pre-emergent weed control. The most common weed is crabgrass and you need a pre-emergent to control it effectively.
If you had crabgrass last year, expect to see it again this year. Crabgrass preventers stop weed seeds from germinating, so you will want to apply them before seeds germinate to get the best control. This will be when soil temperatures reaches about 50°.
Use the our temperature map and the forsythia bushes blooming in spring as your guide. That should stop crabgrass and other weeds before they have a chance to grow.
If you don’t have a crabgrass problem, you will probably be fine with a weed and feed product. Follow directions on the bag and be sure not to over fertilize. Weed and feed fertilizer will take care of most weeds, like dandelions, but have no effect on crabgrass.
Soil Test At Least Every Three Years
You probably don’t need to test your soil every year. A soil test help you identify how much, if any, nutrients your lawn needs. Soil test kits sell for around $6-$10 at Lowes, Home Depot and most hardware stores. A soil test is also a valuable tool for diagnosing problems with your lawn, garden and landscape plants.
Some areas have free soil testing kits available that you can mail in or you can bring a sample in to their office. Your county extension agent can direct you to soil testers in your area. Most soil test kits will test for pH nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash.
Grass seeding, re-seeding and bare spots in the spring
Whether you have an established lawn or you are seeding a new one, the basic principles are the same. You can also spot seed problem areas.
There are really two best times to sow grass seed. Spring or Fall. Both will provide good results, but Fall seeding has a slight advantage.
Early fall is the ideal time to plant grass seed because the ground is still warm enough to start germination, while the days are cool and sometimes rainy. This helps to ensure that the seeds don’t dry out. In early fall there is also still plenty of sunlight to allow new grass to grow and become established before winter arrives.
Many people get discouraged about starting new grass in the fall. They want to be able to enjoy the beautiful new lawn all summer! That’s where spring seeding comes in.
Spring seeding is really a good option, though some consider it the second best option. Aim to seed early in the spring season, before the weather warms up. Spring also tends to bring longer periods of sunshine and rain, both of which contribute to strong growth,
If you have a small lawn, you can sow the grass seeds by hand. Larger areas will require a seed spreader. You might not get even growth the first time, but you can sow additional grass to fill in any bare spots. Always follow the application rates on the bag.
For more on spring lawn care, view these guides:
By Victoria Stone