Spring Lawn Care
A little maintenance in Spring is an efficient way to create a lush lawn in Summer.
Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes the tantalizing promise of green growing things… and a long list of to-do’s. Cheer up! Unlike fall’s focus on lawn-wide rejuvenation, spring lawn care maintenance is all about correcting problem spots and supporting early spring growth.
Winters can be tough on residential lawns, and we’re not just talking about the damage caused by run-off from salted walkways. It’s not unusual for soils to become more acidic or experience compaction during winter months. There’s always a risk of bare patches or disease developing from months of too much (or too little) moisture. Be proactive with a bit of light lawn maintenance this spring to promote a healthy and beautiful summer lawn.
Spring Lawn Care & Maintenance
Get a head start on your maintenance this year by scouting for problem spots before the lawn wakes up. Look for bare patches, low spots, and examine high traffic (or super wet) areas for signs of compaction.
Once you’ve identified your problem spots and how to correct them, we recommend that you purchase the necessary materials as early as possible. Homeowners who wait until late spring may discover that their preferred products have sold out. Here’s a quick list of the materials you may want to consider purchasing this year:
- Fertilizer – for a quick boost of nutrients to support early spring growth
- Grass Seed – a quick fix for small spots of bare earth and thinning lawn
- Topsoil & Soil Amenders – properly applied, a light top dressing of soil or amenders can alleviate and even correct low spots in the lawn
As you’re planning your spring lawn care efforts, keep in mind that lawns like to ‘wake up’ naturally. Applying fertilizer and other materials too soon can stress or damage turf, while starting too late in the season will reduce their effectiveness on your lawn.
Should You Dethatch?
Thatch – the buildup of dead grass blades, roots, and stolons that naturally accumulate just above the soil surface over time.
Thatch is a normal part of any residential lawn, but not many homeowners know what it is, or what it does. This naturally occurring layer plays an important role in the resiliency of your lawn, protecting surface roots from foot traffic and temperature extremes even s it traps moisture in the soil during even the hottest summer days. It also serves as a natural barrier that suppresses weed seed germination. In general, a healthy amount of thatch translates into a healthier lawn that requires less maintenance and water throughout the year.
However, thatch layers that are too deep impede the movement of water, air, and nutrients, smothering turf over time. We typically see this in lawns with thatch layers that are more than 1/2 inch deep. Early spring is an ideal time to deal with dense thatch without damaging tender new growth.
Isn’t Aeration a Fall Task?
Soil compaction can occur at any time of year, so even if you invested in fall aeration last year you may still discover problem spots this spring, especially in high traffic areas. Compaction occurs when soils become packed down, making it difficult for grass to grow and creating an ideal spot for stubborn weeds to move in.
Small areas of compaction can easily be addressed by hand using a pitchfork, but for homeowners who discover soil compaction throughout the lawn, it may be necessary to bring in a professional and mechanical aerator. If you’re one of the unlucky homeowners, keep in mind that with cool season lawns, large scale aeration projects should be done either in early spring or fall when turf is actively growing.
What is Topdressing?
Over time, residential lawns tend to develop low spots as soil settles, water pools, traffic compacts – the why’s and how’s are endless. If your lawn has low spots, you may want to consider correcting them during your spring lawn care efforts to reduce the risk of twisted ankles this summer.
Topdressing is a green industry term that refers to the process of spreading a thin layer of topsoil or other amendment over the top layer of soil, existing lawn, or landscape. By using a good quality topsoil (or a blend of topsoil, compost, and sand) it’s possible to raise an existing soil level while simultaneously improving soil structure, drainage, and adding nutrients. When done correctly, topdressing is an ideal way to correct small low spots in existing lawns.
Quick tip: If you’re considering topdressing as part of your spring lawn care this year, avoid adding more than 1/4 – 1/2 inch at a time and never completely cover the grass blades or risk smothering your lawn!
Winter weather can be rough on lawns, so even homeowners who seeded last fall may see thinning or even bare spots in their lawn this spring.
If you invested in yard-wide overseeding last fall, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to do any major overseeding during your spring lawn care. Plan instead to spot seed any thin or bare spots you encounter by hand.
If you didn’t overseed your lawn last fall, you may want to consider doing so this spring. Like all plants, turf grasses have a natural lifecycle and will die out over time, resulting in thin patches in the lawn. Overseeding is a cost effective way to promote new growth and create a lush, dense lawn all year long.
Winterizer and Spring Fertilizer Applications
Lawns are only as healthy and resilient as their environment allows them to be. Make the most of your lawn with proper nourishment when it’s needed most.
Like people, plants need a balanced diet of nutrients in order to grow and thrive in their environment and dietary needs tend to fluctuate as weather changes. In the fall, homeowners and lawn care professionals often apply winterizer. This type of fertilizer is formulated with a quick-release nitrogen that’s immediately available for your lawn to take up – ideal for turf grasses storing nutrients for winter survival.
Spring fertilizers are formulated differently, using a blend of both quick and slow release Nitrogen. The quick release of nitrogen helps to promote strong growth and greening early in spring, while the slow release nitrogen provides continual feeding over several months. The end result is a lush, healthy lawn throughout the year.
Spring lawn care may not be as intensive as fall lawn maintenance, but it’s equally important when it comes to promoting a healthy, resilient lawn year round. Whether your goal is a multi-functional family space or a showcase lawn, make the most out of your space with a bit of spring lawn care!
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