6 spring lawn care revival secrets
Most parts of the U.S, are emerging from a fairly mild winter, but while the snow hasn't built up too high and temperatures haven't been that low, now's probably a good time to take a look at a part of your property you've been neglecting the past few months: your lawn.
The grasses that make up your lawn have likely been dormant since the waning days of autumn. And while your lawn might not have been buried for weeks under snow and ice, a little lawn care now can help it come alive as the days get longer and warmer. If you follow these tips, you might see your grass come back a little faster than your neighbors'. Here's how to get started:
- Clean-up time. While you weren't paying attention, your lawn was collecting debris, mud, dead grass and leaves. Now's the time to clear it all out, and your best tool for the job is just an old-fashioned rake. Scrape the rake down so that you're really grabbing the old, dead grasses, and make sure you're not leaving any yard waste from last year behind. It can grow mold in the winter.
- Use that compost. If you've been composting, now is the time to check your bounty. As long as you didn't fertilize your lawn in the fall, it's ready for a light fertilization in the spring, and homemade compost makes a perfect fertilizing mulch. Use a push-powered spreader to get an even coat across the surface of the grass.
- Get those weeds. Broad-leafed weeds, such as dandelions, are often new or in a weakened state after suffering through the winter. Now is when they should be attacked before they start to flower and flourish. If you'd prefer to stay away from herbicides, this is probably a job best handled by arming your kids with trowels and treating them to ice cream for a job well done.
- Cover the brown and bald spots. Those particular dead patches where grass has a difficult time growing are ripe for attack now. Cover with seed, mulch and keep moist. Also remember that the local bird population has an eye on your grass seed. Try hanging old CDs from nearby branches and bushes; they're often scared off by the light reflections.
- Let the air in. Cold and sub-freezing temps can help create compacted soil, which is bad news for lawns. Compacted soil that keeps roots from working deep is a major contributor to moss and weed growth. You can rent a lawn aerator for large compacted areas, or walk the area and drive a pitchfork at least two inches down in various spots to loosen the soil.
- Rev up the mower. It's probably been sitting around for four or five months, so it's a good idea to get your mower tuned up, including that all-important annual blade-sharpening. Another area that many overlook is a good cleaning, especially on the underside of the mower. Any weeds or molds that you picked up on your last mow in the fall could be ready to drop on your vulnerable spring lawn.
Once the new grass gets going and the old lawn begins to turn green again, you'll be ready to take on the mowing every week. Don't be afraid to cut the grass a little high: most lawns do fine at 1 1/2 to 2 inches, and a higher lawn tends to naturally crowd out invasive weeds, encouraging a stronger lawn for next winter.