To avoid having lawn problems for the rest of the year, it is important to start with some important lawn care steps in the spring. The steps that are important in the spring clean up could include the eight following steps.
1. Raking – Raking is the first basic part of spring lawn care. This is to prevent excessive thatch build-up – over 1/2 inch. Raking also helps to separate grass blades that can be matted or stuck together. New grass can otherwise have difficulty penetrating up through the matted areas. When you think the snow season is over it is time to begin raking, so the time to rake will depend on your region. Power raking by professional lawn maintenance firms using power rakes is another option.
2. Checking the lawn for Compaction and the need for lawn aeration – Compacted soil holds little air or water. This can be caused by heavy traffic. The appearance of moss plant can be an indication that the soil is compacted. Compacted soil can be corrected with lawn aeration. Aeration also helps reduce thatch build up. Lawn aeration is also often done in the fall, and if so, can be postponed in the spring.
3. Does the lawn require Liming – Grass likes neutral pH. The presence of moss plants signal acidity. To determine the extent of the soil’s acidity, (7 is neutral from a range of 0 to 17, acidic to alkaline), get a pH tester or take a sample to a greenhouse or somewhere that offers soil testing service. An application of lime for acidic soil does not work right away but takes time. Apply lime using a lawn spreader. Do not use lime unless it’s need is indicated by testing the soil as liming is a corrective measure for existing conditions, not a preventative measure. A soil that is too alkaline will cause its own problems.
4. Over-seeding – You may need to apply grass seed to fill in bare patches caused by heavy traffic, bad conditions, neglect, or animal spots. When over-seeding, apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. After approximately 4-5 weeks when the grass seed germinates, then apply a quick release fertilizer. Fall is also a good time to over-seed lawns, when new grass won’t have to compete with crabgrass which is killed by autumn frosts.
5. Fertilizing – Lawns can be fertilized in one of two ways. First, they can be fertilized organically, using compost and mowers that mulch. Or they can be fertilized chemically. But don’t fertilize too much in the spring. Some experts recommend a lighter fertilizing in the spring than in the later fall. The lawn may still be digesting the fertilizer in the spring from a late fall application. Also, too much fertilizer in the spring can lead to weed and disease problems.
6. Applying Pre-Emergent Herbicides – Pre-Emergent herbicides address weed control before weeds develop, or before the seedlings of weeds even emerge. They do this by creating a shield that inhibits seed germination. Carry out core aeration before applying pre-emergent herbicides to avoid damaging the shield. A danger is that the pre-emergent herbicide will also kill the grass seeds so this does create a timing dilemma. This factor makes late fall a good time to over-seed when there is no competition from crabgrass that gets killed by fall frost. One emergent to use in the spring that will not damage germinating lawn seed is ‘Tuperspan’. Weeding, or applying Post-emergent Herbicides are designed for dandelions and other perennial weeds (or you will want to cut off their flower stems before they produce seed, or even better, dig them out by their roots). You can select a broad leaf weed herbicide that discriminates against broad leaf weeds such as dandelions and clover. Fall application is usually more effective than spring.
8. Getting the lawnmower ready – The lawn mower is the most essential piece of equipment for lawn care and maintenance. You want a lawn mower that is dependable and whose size is appropriate to the scale of the job it is required to do. To help ensure dependability tune up the lawn mower every year. Research and determine the optimum grass height for your lawn and adjust the mower height accordingly.