Soon, winter will once again be giving way to spring. The snow and ice will start to melt away and we will once again be able to smell that earth of our yards as they thaw. Naturally, our thoughts will return to setting our lawns up for success so that we may enjoy them for another season.
Having a successful lawn, with lush green grass isn’t just a matter of doing the right thing as much as it is about doing the right thing at the right time. Otherwise, you end up with a lawn that isn’t as healthy or attractive as it could be.
Having that lawn of your dreams takes more than some watering in the spring. It’s actually something that requires various types of care all year long, but when the days are getting longer and the birds are singing again… well, that’s when the magic really happens.
The timing for spring lawn prep is around the time when the worst of winter is over and you’re pretty sure you won’t be getting any more snow. Of course, in Michigan, that’s not always easy to predict with a great degree of accuracy.
In this post, we are going to look at five tips to get your lawn looking good right from the start this spring.
Rake it Like You Mean It
Raking in spring sounds as about as fun as a dental appointment. After all, didn’t we just do a bunch of raking a few months ago? That should have been the end of it, right? Well, raking in spring accomplishes different goals.
When you rake in the spring, the main goal is to remove any thatch that may have built up during winter. Spring raking also helps you locate any parts of the lawn where the grass is clumping up, which could prevent seeding from being as effective as it could be.
The primary goal of fall raking is, of course, to get those leaves off the yard. If you “deep rake” in the fall, that can also help remove thatch. In fact, if you knock it out of the park with your fall raking, you’ll have a much easier time with the spring raking.
Check for Moss
After you have completed racking, you’ll want to inspect the lawn for signs of compaction. These are often most common in areas of the lawn that get the most traffic. Compaction occurs when areas of the soil become so dense that roots have difficulty taking hold. Moss will very often start to grow in these areas; so keep an eye out for that. The solution to compaction is aeration. While aeration is usually considered a fall lawn care task, it can be beneficial in spring to help break up compacted areas of the yard.
The goal of lime is to rectify any issues with pH balance in your yard, particularly to lower acidity levels.
On occasion, you’ll hear someone say, “you can never add too much lime.” That is absolutely not true. While lime can help cure acidity issues, it is not an instant fix. Adding more lime will not make it work faster!
When you add lime consistently over a longer periods of time, pH levels usually return to their ideal equilibrium. To ensure you are getting those levels correct, you should periodically have a soil test done. Too much lime leads to soil that is too alkaline, which, like being too acidic, is not an ideal growing condition for your grass.
Seeding and Fertilizing
A common fix for bare spots in the lawn is overseeding. If you are overseeding, keep in mind that you’ll want to use a slow-release fertilizer.
For the best results, you’ll want to seed in late fall. That’s the time of year when weeds are not competing with the grass. When you seed the lawn in fall, then overseed bare spots in the spring, you set yourself up for a thick, healthy lawn.
After you overseed, wait about five weeks, then add a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer to kick start the growth.
You’ll want to be careful with how much fertilizer you add in spring, though. This is also “weed season” and the fertilizer can bolster weed growth. For that reason, the majority of your fertilizing should be done in fall.
The enemy of a good looking lawn, garden, or flower bed is weeds. In general, a pre-emergent herbicide can help. For absolute best results, however, specific areas should be treated with specific herbicides.
A pre-emergent herbicide is more of a weed preventer than a weed killer. It works by preventing seeds from germinating, which allows your grass to flourish. If you apply a pre-emergent herbicide, you are essentially setting up a barrier against weed growth, which is greatest in spring. If you apply a pre-emergent herbicide, do not aerate. Aeration creates holes in that barrier, give weeds an opportunity to germinate.
All that said, pre-emergent herbicides can also pose problems for your lawn, too. Ideally, you’ll want to limit their use to areas where you want neither weeds nor grass to grow. Consider the ground around trees and shrubs or where you have mulch placed. The ideal way to rid your yard of weeds is to aerate and seed in fall, then overseed bare spots in spring. Pre-emergent herbicides actually negate overseeding.
So plan accordingly.
When people talk about weed killers, they are usually referring to post-emergent herbicides. These weed killers are no joke. They will kill any kind of plant they touch, weed or grass. When you have weeds growing through sidewalk crack, post-emergent herbicides are ideal. Some post-emergent herbicide manufacturers advertise that their product kills only weeds. That’s a risk, however, that many homeowners don’t want to take.
Good old-fashioned weed pulling can work well if you get the whole root structure. Dandelions are a good example, because they return every year. Let’s be honest, though. Nobody likes pulling weeds because it is a serious chore and you have to do it quite a few times every season. Weeds grow so fast that just one day of weeding, no matter how thorough, just isn’t enough to do the job completely.
For the best-looking lawn, it helps to know the best times to seed, fertilize, and implement proper weed control measures. Too often, people just plant and water in the spring, then shake their fist at weeds all season. It doesn’t have to be that way. Keep these tips handy and plan accordingly. You’ll find that your lawn will start look much better very soon.
If you are interested in exploring all of your residential and commercial fertilization and weed control options, contact us online or call us today at (517) 990-0110.