Establishing Your Lawn in the Springtime

By: Brett Freeman , Contributing Writer
In: Home Improvement Tips, Garden And Lawncare

Now that the weather is beginning to change, old home owners are beginning to gaze at their lawn while daydreaming about the upcoming games of horseshoes and Frisbee.

Springtime is the best time for your lawn. The abundant rain and sun are exactly what grass needs to thrive. To ensure that it continues thriving, use the good spring weather to let your yard get firmly established.

As your lawn emerges from dormancy in the spring, in most cases, it thrives for the first month or two. As good as it looks, it’s a bit too early to start congratulating yourself for your green thumb. Everyone’s lawn thrives in spring because the weather–moderate temperatures and a good mix of sun and rain–is ideal for grass. If you want your lawn to continue looking great through the summer, you need to take advantage of the great start it gets, and turn that good growth into good health.

Let that Grass Grow!
For your lawn to remain healthy even during the hottest part of summer, it needs a well-established root network. As a general rule of thumb, your grass’ root network spreads downwards about as much as the grass is allowed to grow above the ground. So don’t bolt out there with your mower when those first new shoots of grass appear. Let your lawn get pretty shaggy–at least four inches long–before cutting it for the first time. If your mower has mulching blades, go over it twice to ensure that the trimmings get adequately chopped up. If you don’t have mulching blades, bag the clippings or blow or rake them into the bushes after the initial cut. You want to make sure that these extra-long clippings don’t form clumps that can inhibit growth. Then for the first month or so, set your mower’s height to cut an inch or more longer than normal.

Getting the Most Out of Overseeding

If you’re planning on overseeding, do it early. For Bermuda and other creeping grass lawns, you need to prepare the yard for seeding by first dethatching. If your soil has a high clay content and is prone to compression, you should also aerate with a plug aerator prior to seeding. Ideally you want to put the seed down just before your lawn wakes up in spring. If your grass has already started growing, wait until it is ready for its first cut, as described above, then overseed and fertilize at the same time.

Smart Watering
Grass grows best with heavy, occasional (two or three times a week) watering. This allows the water to penetrate down to the root network, where it can be absorbed by the plant. It also softens the soil, which makes it easier for the root network to expand. But you don’t want to overdo it; if the ground gets too soft, the grass roots get no purchase in the sodden soil, and your lawn can easily get torn up.

In spring, you need to pay attention to the weather and make sure to turn off your irrigation system when Mother Nature takes care of the watering. And while light, frequent watering doesn’t do much for grass, it is exactly what grass seed needs. If you overseeded, water for a few minutes, several times a day until the seed sprouts–generally a week or two–then transition to less frequent, heavier watering over a couple of weeks. Also, skip a week of mowing once the new grass starts to grow. You’ll be out there with your Frisbee in no time.