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4 Tasks to Prepare Your Lawn for Spring

May 21, 2020

When spring is in the air, you’ll see the first crocuses or daffodils return, marking the coming of the season. These signs should also signal to you that it is time to get your lawn ready for the growing season. The exact timing of these spring lawn care tasks depends upon the climate of your region. If you get snow in your area, then start when you are pretty confident the snow season is over. Another good indicator is about the time the local forsythia plants stop blooming, and the local lilac bushes begin to flower. For most people, there are four tasks you should do or think about as you head into spring.

1. Rake Deeply

Raking is the first thing you need to do when getting your lawn ready for new growth. You probably think, “But, my trees had no leaves falling for months. Why?” Even if you did a phenomenal job of raking leaves in the fall, you still have to contend with thatch. If you are unfamiliar with it, thatch is the layer of mainly dead turfgrass tissue lying between the green vegetation of the grass above and the root system and soil below. This layer, if it becomes too thick (1/2 inch or more), can be bad for the health of your grass. Thatch is why you should rake deeply when raking leaves in the fall.

You still need to rake in the spring, no matter how good a job you did in the fall. You need to remove the grass blades that died over the winter. You do not want that dead grass turning into thatch.

Another good reason for a spring raking is you can find matted patches of lawn. If you inspect carefully and notice the grass blades are all stuck together, a lawn disease called snow mold may be to blame. New grass may have difficulty penetrating these matted patches, and raking can solve this problem.

2. Assess Soil

Besides compaction, if you see moss coating the ground, it is a sign of acidic soil. Grass likes a neutral pH. You can neutralize the acid in your soil by adding lime (ground limestone) to it. However, this is not a quick fix. The liming takes hold gradually.

Before you do it, send a soil sample to your local cooperative extension office to determine your soil’s acidity. The cooperative extension office is a free educational resource offering scientific-based assistance in agriculture, horticulture, and other areas of expertise. All you have to do is call, check on their website, or visit your local extension office, and they can advise you on how much lime per square foot you’ll need. You will need to have a fertilizer spreader to apply the lime.

A soil that is too alkaline can also cause your lawn problems. So, only apply lime as a corrective measure, not a preventive measure.

3. Overseed

A lawn riddled with bare patches due to dog spots, heavy traffic, or neglect may need an application of grass seed to fill in those bare patches. Overseeding is the process of sowing seed over existing grass. Apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer when you overseed. Five weeks after the grass germinates, apply quick-release nitrogen fertilizer.

Fall is the preferred time to do your overseeding, but if your grass is in dire need of help, do it. You just might have to contend with some crabgrass cropping up and feeding off of the fertilizer.

4. Fertilize

Lawns can be fertilized organically by using compost and mulching mowers. But for those who prefer chemical fertilizers, the Scotts Miracle-Grow Company provides a widely accepted schedule for fertilizing lawns. However, many experts recommend a lighter feeding in spring and a heavier one in late fall for cool-season grasses. Too much fertilizer in spring can lead to disease and weed problems. And if you fertilized in late fall, then your lawn still has fertilizer to feed on in spring.