The warm weather is here, and you’re itching to get outside. Here are six steps to ensure you start the season with a kick-off-your-shoes lawn.
It’s not unusual to have weeds in your lawn. A weedy lawn is usually a sign of nutrient imbalance or other soil problems. For small patches just pull or dig them out. Try to get all the roots, so the weeds can’t grow back. If you have a weed-infested lawn, consider applying a chemical or organic herbicide, or making your own weed killer with white vinegar, salt and dish soap. Don’t apply herbicide if you’re seeding your lawn. Pre-emergent herbicides will also prevent grass seed from sprouting.
While fighting weeds is a year-round job, weed prevention is best practiced in the fall and early spring to take advantage of the growing season of turf grasses.
2. Seeding Bare Spots
You can fill large bare spots by re-seeding. Get the right type of seed to match your lawn. It’s usually better to choose high-quality seed, even if it costs a bit more. Avoid any seed that contains more than .01% of weed seed. Plant according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Water lightly but regularly.
If you have large brown spots in your yard, use this checklist to help you determine the cause.
3. Allow the Soil to Breathe
The soil in lawns becomes compacted over time, resulting in weak or dying grass. Aerate your soil with a garden fork or a manual lawn plug aerator. The holes left behind allow the soil to breathe and let water and nutrients reach the grass’ roots. For a larger area, you may want to rent a gas-powered, walk-behind aerator. It’s a good idea to mark any sprinkler lines or electrical wires first, so they don’t get cut in the process.
Thatch is decaying grass blades that can build up in your lawn. A little bit of thatch is good for your lawn, but too much can choke healthy grass and stop water and nutrients from reaching the roots. If the thatch in your yard is more than 1/2 inch thick, remove it with a lawn rake or specialized dethatching rake. For bigger areas, rent a gas-powered dethatcher, also known as a power rake.
5. Proper Mowing Technique
For a good-looking lawn, cut less grass more frequently. You should only remove one-third of the length of the grass blade when you mow. Cutting any deeper puts unnecessary strain on the plant. So, schedule your mowing to allow just that much growth between cuttings. It’s also good to leave the grass a little taller in warmer months, so it develops a better root system and better resists drought.
Performing a bit of simple, routine maintenance on your lawn mower will keep your mower running smoothly and extend its lifetime.
6. Water and Feed
Once your grass starts growing, give your lawn at least 1” of water weekly. Until then, water less frequently. But remember that cold air is very drying to plants and lawns.
If your lawn looks bad, fertilize lightly in the spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. Save the heavier feedings for fall, when cool-season grasses are at their peak growing season.
Top-dressing your lawn with new soil gradually improves its health. As organic matter breaks down, the new soil filters through the existing soil to improve texture and overall health.