Checklist for Spring Lawn Maintenance
Congratulations, you made it! It’s Spring and there is nothing better than seeing the trees beginning to bud, the birds singing, and the first signs of your lawn coming back to life. So now is the time to get out into your yard to inspect the winter damage, and begin your early-spring lawn prep. If you have not already done spring maintenance on your lawnmower, please see our article getting your mower ready for the Spring. With the mower or lawn tractor ready to go, here is a quick and easy spring lawn maintenance checklist to follow and ensure your yard is ready for the mowing season.
Inspect Your Yard
The first step of your spring lawn care checklist is to walk your property and take note of the following. These items will help you plan the tools needed and next steps:
- Standing Water or Wet Spots
- Bare Spots in Your Lawn
- Look for areas with thatch buildup
Clean Up and Let Your Yard Breathe
Take this opportunity to get the leaves off of your lawn. Rake or blow leaves and debris away from your plants. Any excessive build-up of leaves on emerging plants will starve them of oxygen and will damage or even kill them. Plants, especially perennials, are too expensive to have them diseased or worse when a simple cleanup can alleviate this.
Dethatch Your Lawn
Thatch is not necessarily a bad thing. Thatch that accumulates during the course of your mowing actually can be beneficial. It breaks down and puts nutrients back into the soil. It also protects the roots from heat and helps retain moisture. But too much of a good thing can be harmful; make it a point to completely remove all of the thatch possible from your lawn. This is one of the critical things that can give any lawn a fresh look, but also allows oxygen to flow better around the turf.
Aerate Your Lawn
Compacted soil is the enemy of grass. In many parts of the country, the soil has a high content of clay that easily compacts. This can choke off new grass growth and not allow moisture to penetrate the soil. Aeration is a great way to open up the ground and allow more oxygen to get to the roots of the grass. If you aerate an area that is really compacted, check with your local extension office about proper soil amendments that help minimize compaction. It is ideal to aerate your lawn twice per year in the Spring and Fall. Doing this you will give your lawn the best opportunity to remain healthy throughout the summer and winter months.
Mow Your Lawn Higher Than You Think!
A lot of folks like to keep their lawn short to look like a golf course; the problem with that is turf on a golf course is a different type of turfgrass altogether. Not to mention golf course turf is also extremely dense unlike most lawns in the U.S. Mowing your yard higher in the Spring will allow it to choke out weeds and protect roots from sun damage. Most fescue lawns should be cut at 3 to 4 inches high. Most warm-weather grasses like bermuda, zoysia, and centipede should be cut to 1 to 2 inches. The most important thing to remember is to avoid cutting more than 1/3 of the height off. For example: If your lawn is 6 inches tall, you should cut 2 inches off at the most. This will alleviate the stress you put on your yard.
Spot Seed Those Bare Spots
Now is the time to spot seed those bare spots in your yard. All you need is a rake, some seed, and some straw. Some seed manufacturers also carry those all-in-one patch seeding kits. The main thing is make sure your soil is loosened down to a depth of at least 2-3 inches. Simply apply the seed, cover with straw, and water. Depending on the variety of seed you use, you could see results in a week or so. Remember to avoid mowing the newly grown grass until it reaches at least 2 inches in height. Need a quick fix on your lawn? If you are in a climate that has predominantly fescue grass, try mixing in some annual ryegrass. What you will find is the rye will grow in a matter of a few days; this acts as an excellent insulator to your slower-growing seeds. As the temperatures heat up, the rye will die off and create a natural fertilizer for your remaining turf.
Sticking to an Annual Plan for Lawn and Mower Maintenance
While many of us are practically (or literally) lawn care experts, planning early can make sure we are well-equipped to handle these annual tasks. Also, it is nice to have peace-of-mind that everything is in order when we pull out our Cub Cadet lawn tractor or mower! For your Spring lawn maintenance, just remember to give your yard an inspection for standing water and wet spots, bare spots, and thatch before going to work. And for other lawn and mower guides and how-tos, be sure to follow our blog!