Lawn Care for the Spring Season
Each year, as winter loosens it’s grip and the landscape starts to show small signs of life once again, we turn our thoughts to our lawns and how we can finally get that lush green grass we’ve always wanted.
However, most of us fight year after year without success, and sometimes it seems that the more effort we put into our lawns, the worse they look. This is most likely caused not by doing the wrong things, but by doing the right things at the wrong time and hurting our chances of getting a great looking lawn.
Having a lawn that is the envy of the neighborhood isn’t something that happens just because we water a little in the spring. Lawn maintenance is something we should be aware of all year, but springtime is where the real action happens.
Most homeowners shudder at the idea of raking in the spring. After all, the heavy raking we all did in the Fall was supposed to be the end of it for the year, right?
Raking in the spring is intended to control the unwelcome buildup of thatch. It also helps to identify any clumped areas of grass where snow mold has caused the blades to stick together, which will be a problem when we seed the lawn.
Raking in the fall is done primarily to clean up the leaves falling from the trees, but it also helps to rake deep enough to remove thatch as well. By raking well in the fall, it will actually make the spring raking easier.
Over seed, Not Overfeed
If you intend to over seed your lawn to repair bare spots, you should do so with a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer.
Remember that you will get great results if you seed in the late fall, because weeds won’t be competing with the grass, and that, combined with hitting the bare areas in the spring, will quickly bring your lawn to a lush green.
About five weeks after over seeding, add a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer to really help the new grass get going.
In fact, go a little easier on the fertilizers in the spring because many times you are not only fueling the new grass, but fast-growing weeds as well. Do your heavier fertilizing in the fall.
Weeds are the bane of our existence when trying to create a manicured lawn. Using a pre-emergent herbicide can help, but it’s best to know which type of herbicide is used for specific areas.
A pre-emergent is not a weed killer as much as it is as ‘weed preventer’, designed to keep the seeds from being able to germinate, and giving your lawn a fighting chance. By putting down a pre-emergent, it creates a barrier against weed growth that can limit the sudden spring explosion of the pesky plants. Once you place down a pre-emergent, do not aerate, since this will allow breaks in the barrier that weeds can work through.
However, most pre-emergents can actually cause problems for your lawn as well, so pre-emergents should generally be used only in areas where you want no weeds or grass, such as around shrubs or trees. Your best bet for getting rid of the weeds in the lawn itself is fall aeration, fall seeding and spring overseeding. Overseeding simply won’t work with pre-emergents.
The more familiar weed killers are ‘post-emergents’, but those are usually serious herbicides that will decimate any plant matter they come in contact with. These are the types used to eliminate dandelions growing through the sidewalk. While there are post-emergents that claim to only kill the weeds, it’s often risky and many people dislike the idea of overuse of chemicals.
Pulling weeds can be effective, especially if you can pull the entire root. Dandelions often need this kind of attack because they come back yearly. Many people avoid pulling weeds because it can be hard labor and often needs to be done several times over the growing season. Weeds grow quickly and one day of weeding simply won’t be enough to keep them at bay.
By understanding the best times to seed, fertilize and kill weeds, you can actually make your yard much greener in less time. Most people only plant seed in the spring and add water, baffled by why they continue to lose their yard to dandelions and thistle. If you follow these guidelines, your yard will soon become the plush, green carpet you may have thought was impossible.