Tips on how to prepare your lawn for spring
Lawns have been a favorite part of home landscapes since the turn of the 1900's. They offer a peaceful, flat area of green that can be used for play, relaxation or simply to counter areas of active growth with a simple, flat surface.
They don't enhance a garden when they are blotchy, dying, overgrown or torn-up. So use grass where it grows well, serves a purpose and is properly tended so it looks its best.Credit: Photo by Jane Gates
As spring approaches there are a number of things you can do to get your lawn in good shape. If you live in an area where water shortages are a threat, you may want to reduce your grass to the area where it is most useful. Then you will want to prepare the remaining area to look its best for the spring so it off-sets the flat green with color and texture.
Lawn replacement can open up space for growing vegetables, adding an herb garden, a drought-tolerant flower garden, or an easy maintenance permeable paving area for seating or entertaining in the rest of the area. Or you can build a play area or add a place for pets. Then focus your attention on some of these lawn-care tips to prepare for the spring.
Aerate your grass in the autumn or the spring. If you have a compacted or clay soil you may want to aerate twice a year. You can do this manually with a tool you step on that pulls out little cylinders of soil in plugs creating little air pockets or you can rent a machine that will do the same thing for a larger area.
Then clean up the area by raking out any dead leaves, sticks, thatch or other brown material from the around roots.
Check for signs of pests like gophers or moles and bait and trap if found. It's best to control these destructive animals early, before spring litters, to help keep the population down.
Once your lawn starts to green up give it its first lower mowing, cutting off the brown tips of the grass. Keep the blades set high to encourage growing plants to form an extensive root system.
Seed over any bare or damaged areas. Check to make sure you use the kind of seed that will grow well -- like a shade grass or a full sun variety. Then make sure you keep it well watered until it has grown in fully.
Hand-pull any germinating weeds before they get established. If you want you can also apply pre-emergent herbicide but avoid newly seeded areas. Any herbicide is a poison so read the label carefully and make sure you follow directions.
You can add a light top coat of compost or use a well-balanced fertilizer to give a boost for the spring green-up.
Then, if you are using an irrigation system, make sure it is tuned up, leak-free and set to water deeply during early morning hours. Surface watering will encourage short, vulnerable roots. Deep rooted lawns will be strong and resist damage.
Use the late days of winter when the weather is warmer to get your lawn prepared for spring. Clean-up jobs provide good exercise in the frest air and will make a world of difference to the health and beauty of your grass as the season progresses.