Spring has finally arrived, and after a harsh winter, it’s time to get your lawn back to its best shape. While it’s true that you really only need sun, water, and fertilizer to create a lush landscape, there are a few things you can do to help make your lawn the envy of the neighborhood.
Step 1 – Browse
Lawns take a big hit during those long winter months, so the first thing to do to get your lawn back to its healthy state is to examine it for wear and tear. I note the spots on the grass that are sterile, overgrown, or uneven. Plan to address those issues accordingly.
Step 2 – Clean
Avoid working on your lawn until the soil dries, as heavy traffic and raking can clog the soggy soil and damage the grass. Once the soil is dry, use your leaf or garden rake to gently remove all the dead things left over from winter, including fallen leaves and debris. This also helps soften your grass and allows it to breathe better.
Step 3: remove the straw
All types of grasses are prone to developing excess thatch. Thatch is the accumulation of dead grass between the ground and the blade of grass. Excess pajamas is a problem because it prevents air and nutrients from circulating frequently. To remove thatch, run a straw rake across the lawn to remove dead grass, leaves, and other debris.
Step 4 – Aerate
Sometimes grass becomes so compacted during the winter that nutrients cannot penetrate to the root system. That is why it is important to aerate your lawn that you are simply poking holes in your yard to improve circulation. You should aerate your lawn twice a year, in spring and fall. Aerators come in many different types, including a portable version that makes the process easier, though a bit slower.
Step 5 – Seed
If your lawn has a lot of bare spots, consider replanting those areas to promote growth. First, down to the bare spots to a depth of three inches and then smooth. Add compost or starter fertilizer, and then scatter the seeds. Sow half of the seeds in one direction and half in the other. Finally, rake again and then make sure to follow a regular watering schedule, specifically that the water drains specifically. Remember, with planting, be sure not to use any weed control chemicals until you have cut the new seedlings at least four times.
Step 6 – Weed Control
Weeds are a constant pest of any lawn. One way to deal with them is to use a non-selective herbicide to eliminate their food source. While you may be tempted to go the herbicide route to tend to those dreaded weeds, you can also treat them naturally. Many experts avoid using herbicides because a healthy herb will naturally drown out those pesky invaders. Along with regular mowing, which will help cut down weeds like dandelions and crabs before they have a chance to spread and water, a healthy lawn is your best defense.
Step 7 – Fertilize
Every lawn needs a solid meal to stay healthy. Most experts agree that your lawn should be fertilized twice a year, including once in the spring and once in the fall. When choosing a fertilizer, it is best to test the pH of your soil to find out what nutrients you may need to add. In general, choose a complete fertilizer that includes additional micronutrients over the common types of NPK (nitrogen-phosphate-potassium). Also, be sure not to over fertilize, as that can lead to the development of straw.
Step 8 – Water
Watering routines depend on the type of lawn. If your lawn is well established, only water once a week, but make sure it’s a good, deep watering. If your lawn is freshly seeded, water every day for about ten minutes to moisten the seeds without creating a lot of runoff. After the lawn is half an inch tall, extend your watering for five to ten minutes. If your lawn is sandy, it will tend to dry out faster and will need more frequent watering. If it is clay, it will retain moisture better and will not require as much irrigation.
Step 9 – Cut
The key to mowing properly is to avoid cutting the blades too short. Ideally, you should only cut the top third of the grass when cutting, leaving about 2-3 inches of grass remaining. Taller grass helps create more shade for the soil which prevents it from drying out and also promotes better root development. Also, taller grass will help keep weeds out. With that in mind, raise your mower blade all the way up and start mowing.