How to Prep Your Yard This Spring for Year-Round Beauty
Use these spring lawn care tips to keep your yard healthy and lush every day of the year.
1. Remove the Thatch
While a tiny bit of thatch (dead or dying grass shoots) can be good for your lawn, too much will suffocate it and encourage pests and disease. Early spring makes the best time to rake away thatch for warm-season grasses. Keep in mind that a major removal of this debris can be hard on your lawn, so it’s important to do it at the start of a growth period, when your lawn is able to fully recover. For standard thatch (less than an inch thick) a stiff rake should remove it efficiently.
2. Regulate Soil pH
Soil with a balanced pH level (typically between five and seven) is necessary for a healthy lawn. Too high of a pH and the soil is considered alkaline. Sulfate should then be added with a broadcast spreader for balance. When the soil pH is too low, it’s acidic and lime should be added the same way. Read the instructions on any additives before administering them so you treat your lawn with the correct amount. Water the lawn after you’ve made your adjustments and test the soil again in a month.
3. Aerate Your Lawn
When the soil is overly compacted, your lawn cannot thrive. Aerating the lawn while it is in a period of high growth will loosen the soil so that the roots have room to grow, and better absorption of water and nutrients can be had. Aeration can be done in many ways, based on the size of the lawn. For example, push aerators or aeration shoes work well for small yards, while a gas-powered aeration machine might be needed for a larger lawn. Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, Bahia and St. Augustine, should be aerated in late spring so that the grass has sufficient time to recover from the procedure.
4. Fill in Bare Spots
Once spring hits and your yard starts to get green again, some uneven areas or bare spots may become apparent. This isn’t anything to panic about, as these spots can be dealt with by simply spraying out the area with water, raking up any dead vegetation, and then using sand and soil to level it. Reseed the area with your variety of grass and water routinely until the new grass is established.
5. Add Some Seed
Whether planting a new lawn or supplementing an existing one, it’s important to get seeding right. Early spring is the best time to undertake this task, but understand that growth may be slowed by colder soil temperatures. If you miss the spring window for seeding, it can also be done in the fall.
The type of grass you decide to plant will depend heavily on where you live, how much yard maintenance you want to do, and how much sunlight you get. Before investing in expensive sod or undertaking an extensive seeding project, do your research to ensure the best result.
6. Hydration Matters
Water is something that all grass requires, although the amount will vary depending on the type you have. While complex in-ground irrigation systems may seem ideal, if you can’t afford one it’s not a problem. The same results can be had with a well-positioned sprinkler and a standard timer. An outdoor timer is a relatively affordable way to guarantee you don’t miss important early-morning waterings. You just affix the timer to your outside spigot and then attach your hose to the bottom of the timer. Turn on the water and the timer will monitor the flow to the sprinkler.
7. Mowing Tips
It goes without saying that step one in lawn maintenance is to take good care of your mower. Keep the blades sharp so that clean cuts are made and the grass is able to heal efficiently after a cutting. In addition, fresh spark plugs and gas will help your mower perform optimally. With regular tune-ups and maintenance, your mower can last for many years.
As for the actual cutting of the grass, it’s important not to cut your lawn too short — especially cool-season varieties. Try not to cut more than the top third of the grass blade or else you may stress the plant and cause it to turn brown. Also, mixing up the directions you mow helps to ensure a more uniform cut, reduces soil compaction and encourages a straight growth pattern.
If you stick to the 1/3 rule when cutting your lawn, then grass clippings act as a natural fertilizer for the grass. No need to rake and bag them — the clippings are full of nutrients and will help feed the lawn. Just be sure not to mow a wet lawn, as the clippings will clump together and possibly do harm.