Have you ever found yourself wondering how your neighbours achieve their thick healthy lawns year after year? The answer is very simple -- they work at it! When the weather quickly changes and the snow melts, lawns typically do not look very good, which is when a homeowner’s work begins.
The following is a list of the top spring tasks that will nurse your lawn out of winter dormancy and prepare it for the lawn care season.
CLEAN UP WINTER DEBRIS.
Walk around your lawn and clean up the debris that has accumulated in your yard over the winter months including, but not limited to, trash, sticks, branches and leaves.
Tip: You can use the natural debris to start a residential compost pile. Choose a location in your yard as far away from your house as possible. There, you can place kitchen scraps, leaves, etc... Remember to turn over the compost pile weekly to encourage the decomposition process.
If your lawn is not too wet, the best thing you can do for your lawn is give it a stiff raking. A stiff raking will remove smaller debris and loose thatch. Raking will stir up the ground, allowing more room for water and nutrients to reach turf roots and encourage new growth. Also, raking creates much needed air circulation for those flattened areas that may be infected with the lawn disease known as snow mold.
Over the winter season the soil will become more compacted, especially in areas with heavy snowfall. Compacted soil may not contain enough oxygen to allow healthy grass plant growth. Mechanical core aeration cuts finger-sized plugs of soil and turf out of the lawn. Aerating your lawn will greatly improve the penetration of oxygen, water and fertilizer to reach the roots, enabling deeper growth and producing a more vigorous lawn.
Over-seeding your lawn with new seed is imperative. Over-seeding will replace dying grass, to produce and maintain a denser lawn. Try not to over-seed too early, because seed needs two things to grow: moisture and adequate sunshine.
One of the most important things you can do to “set the stage” for a healthy lawn is to start off the season with a balanced nutrition/fertility program. That said, fertilizing your lawn too early can have a detrimental affect by essentially tricking your lawn to come out of winter dormancy too early. This can happen if you get a few unseasonably warm days in late winter. If there are fertilizer pellets on the ground at this time, the grass may start greening up, only to be shocked by the return of freezing temperatures. A good rule of thumb with fertilizing is to wait until you’ve raked, cleared debris and the grass appears to be greening up on its own before you add fertilizer to the equation. The fertilizer blend applied can offer some flexibility in this situation. Your local Weed Man can advise you on specifics.
CHECK YOUR LAWN MOWER.
Before using your lawn mower, check the oil and air filters. It is important to sharpen the blades. Cutting your grass with a dull blade will tear and fray the grass plants, making them vulnerable to turf disease.
For your very first mow, it’s okay to set the height a little lower (5-6 cm). This lower initial height of cut may help to remove some diseased foliage. But after your first mowing, set the mower height to a high setting on your mower (move to the highest height setting in summer months).
In general, for optimal turf health, it is important to keep your grass blades at 6-8 cm. Most mower settings on conventional machines are too short. So picking the “middle” setting, for example, might seem reasonable, but in most cases it is far too short for optimal lawn health. Mowing frequency is also very important, particularly in the spring. Do your best to cut no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade each time you mow. In the lush growing conditions of spring, this can mean mowing 2-3 times per week. Also, try to alternate your mowing direction in order to keep the grass blades growing straight.
CHECK YOUR GARDEN HOSE and/or SPRINKLER SYSTEM.
Before you know it you will need to water your lawn to help new plant growth. Take some time to inspect your hoses and/or sprinkler system. Ensure your water lines are in good working condition. Also, check to ensure your sprinklers are delivering a proper pattern and are not leaking. A working garden hose (and/or sprinkler system) will ensure that a sufficient water supply is readily available when required.
By adhering to this list, you will be jump starting your lawn’s health for the lawn care season. Keep in mind that if you find yourself concerned and overwhelmed with your lawn’s appearance following the cool winter months, do not be afraid to speak with your local Weed Man lawn care professional to get some advice.
Other spring tasks homeowner’s should consider:
- Organize shed/garage
- Prune roses, shrubs & bushes
- Clean out eaves troughs
- Prepare garden soil
- Clean patio furniture
- Edge garden beds
- Prepare garden soil
- Plant spring perennials
- Mulch tree bases, shrubs and garden beds