Now that spring has arrived, and the temperatures are starting to rise, it’s time to start thinking about how to care for your lawn as your grass turns green and starts to grow again. After all, the period between March and May is crucial for establishing a healthy lawn that will last through the summer and into the fall. This means that the difference between a lush and robust lawn and a dried-out and dead one comes down to how you care for it in the spring.
If you’re interested in readying your lawn for the coming months, here’s a comprehensive 10-step guide to help you get started.
Step 1: Get a Handle on Your Soil Health
The first step in caring for your lawn in the spring is to test your soil. A soil test will provide important data such as pH level, nutrient levels, and soil composition. Knowing this information can help you determine the best type of fertilizer and soil amendments to use on your lawn.
To test your soil properly, it’s best to order a testing kit from a local garden center or online from a company like SoilTest.com. Once you receive your kit, follow the instructions to collect a soil sample and fill out the form provided. Then you can send the kit with the soil sample to the address provided and receive your custom lab-tested soil analysis report, complete with detailed information about the makeup of your soil and any potential problems.
If you don’t have access to a soil test, you can use a general 15-5-10 fertilizer. This type of fertilizer is a balanced blend of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It’s good for promoting overall lawn health, but you may need to adjust the ratio depending on your soil’s specific needs.
Step 2: Clean Up Your Lawn
Once the snow has melted and the temperatures have risen, it’s time to start cleaning up your lawn. Rake away any leaves, sticks, or thatch that has gathered on your grass. This will help to improve airflow and prevent lawn disease, as well as make it easier to mow, trim, water, and fertilize your lawn in the future.
Step 3: Fertilize Your Lawn
You should fertilize your lawn a few weeks after the grass turns at least 40-50% green and when there isn’t much chance of a late frost.
Note: it’s important to know when to fertilize your lawn and when not to, as doing so too early or too late can damage your lawn. Read our post, When to Fertilize Your Lawn, for more on this.
When choosing a fertilizer, make sure to use one that is specifically designed for your soil type. You can use a general 15-5-10 fertilizer, but you may need to adjust the ratio depending on your soil’s specific needs.
Finally, the amount of fertilizer you use should depend on the type of grass you have; so it can help to consult with a local lawn care specialist if you’re unsure. It’s also best practice to spread the fertilizer in two separate applications, rather than all at once, to ensure the best results and minimal damage to your lawn.
Step 4: Monitor Your Irrigation System
Few people realize how important watering your lawn is, let alone how an irrigation system is critical to keeping your lawn healthy and green—especially during the summer months. Without regular watering, your lawn can become dry and brittle, which can lead to an unhealthy lawn and costly repairs.
With the help of an irrigation system, you can make sure your lawn is watered consistently, effectively, and efficiently—without wasting any water. Plus, you can control the amount of water that’s used—so that you don’t over or underwater your lawn—as well as adjust the settings according to your lawn’s needs.
To make sure your system is working correctly and efficiently, you should conduct an irrigation audit. This will help you identify any areas of inefficiency, so you can make sure your irrigation system is providing your lawn with the water it needs.
Step 5: Water Your Lawn
Once your irrigation system is up and running, it’s time to start watering your lawn. Depending on the weather, you should water every 5 to 10 days to a depth of 6 inches. Make sure not to waste water by checking the lawn while your sprinkler system is running. You don’t want to apply water faster than your soil can absorb it, and you should let your lawn dry before watering again.
Are you watering your lawn correctly? If you’re not sure, check out our post of the same name for more tips on how to properly water your lawn.
Step 6: Monitor for Fungal Lawn Disease
Fungal lawn disease can be a serious problem for your lawn. To prevent it from taking hold, monitor your lawn for signs of disease. Remove any dead or dying grass, as well as any standing water, and ensure that the soil is aerated and well drained. It can also help to make sure your lawn is properly fertilized and watered and to mow it regularly.
If you notice any signs of infection, apply fungicide as needed, or contact your local agricultural extension office for advice on the best treatment option.
Step 7: Sharpen Your Lawn Equipment
Looking for a simple tip that will help keep your lawn looking its best throughout spring and summer? Clean and sharpen your lawn mower, edger, and other lawn equipment before you start using them. This will help to ensure that your equipment is working properly and efficiently and will help to keep your lawn looking neat and tidy.
Not sure how to sharpen your lawn mower (and keep it that way)? Check out our blog on how to do just that!
Step 8: Control Weeds
Weeds can be a major nuisance, but there are some steps you can take to keep them under control.
Use a pre-emergent herbicide in early to mid-spring to control crabgrass and other weeds before they sprout. Just make sure you do it as soon as the soil temperature reaches 55°F for 2-3 consecutive days.
You should also apply post-emergent herbicides to weeds that have already sprouted, but only when your grass is growing and healthy. Applying herbicide to an emerging yard can result in unnecessary lawn stress which can damage your lawn.
Step 9: Observe the 1/3 Rule When Mowing
When mowing your lawn, always observe the 1/3 rule. This means that you should never remove more than one-third of the leaf tissue in a single mowing. For example, if your grass is 3 inches tall, do not remove more than an inch. If your grass gets too tall to cut it to your desired height, you can remove 1/3 blade every 2-3 days until it is reached.
Step 10: Aerate Your Lawn
To prevent pests and diseases, it’s important to address compaction and thatch buildup issues early on. Aeration can help reduce compaction problems, allowing your lawn to absorb nutrients and water more easily. That said, it’s best to wait until your grass is actively growing before you aerate, as doing so can damage the roots of dormant grass.
Upgrade Your Lawn Today!
By following these steps, you can ensure that your lawn is healthy and green all spring long. And, by taking the time to properly care for your lawn in the spring, you can be sure you’ll have a lawn that you’re proud of come summer.
The Grass Outlet is a three-generation family-owned sod farm in Texas, that provides warm-season sod to customers throughout the state. If you need help understanding how to properly care your lawn or would like to order new grass, contact us today for more information. One of our service representatives is available to answer all of your questions and help you find the perfect sod for your lawn.