Preparing Your Lawn Before & During Spring
Once it’s cold out, it’s not uncommon for the desire to do any outdoor work to fizzle. We’re not judging, but now is seriously the time to take action. Spring is a pivotal time for your lawn, as it essentially sets the tone for the remainder of the year. If you take extra care of your lawn during the spring months, you’ll promote better quality growth in the future.
Inspect your lawn
As soon as you can stand to be outside for any extended amount of time, take a walk around your lawn. Note bald spots, weeds, or really anything unusual. Think of this as an annual audit of your lawn. The earlier that you notice issues, the easier it will be to fix any problems that you have.
You’ll need to remove branches, dead leaves, and other debris so that sunlight and air can touch the grass. Debris can also include any errant trash that has accumulated beneath trees and shrubs. We recommend to do this during the day when the grass is completely dry so as not to compact or damage soggy grass.
Rake matted areas
As soon as snow and ice fade, it’s a good idea to rake out areas of thatch.
Thatch: Dried, dead grass that can be thick and deep.
Thatch prevents oxygen and sunlight from reaching your grass and other plants. Leaving this cover on grass can also invite in snow mold. Snow mold is a pinkish-grey web over matted grass. Or even just a brown slime. Despite its name, it’s not the most lethal threat to your lawn. You’d need essentially 100 consecutive days of snow for the snow mold to kill your grass. (Hint: not gonna happen in Middle Tennessee!)
Pre-emergent is all about the timing. It needs to be applied before the ground reaches 55-60 degrees, when weeds have time to germinate. Ideally, you’ll want pre-emergent applied in early March. However, Tennessee weather is fickle, so it could be a little later if need be. We’re aware that temperature of soil can be a guessing game, so there’s a little rule of thumb that is a cue it’s time to apply pre-emergent:
Watch for the Forsythia bush to bloom. These bloom a few weeks before crabgrass germinates. This is the window that you want to apply pre-emergent.
One of the biggest ordeals with pre-emergent is that it’s non-selective. This means that it can do a great job getting rid of crabgrass and other grassy weeds, but it won’t distinguish between these weeds and actual grass seeds. For already established grass, there’s no need to worry. Just like pre-emergent won’t work on germinated weeds, it won’t harm mature grass, either. However, you will have to wait at least 8 weeks after applying pre-emergent to lay new grass seed.
Clean out your gutters
Fall and winter have likely left quite a bit of leaves and other debris in your gutters. While it’s not the most glamorous of chores, filled gutters can result in costly home water damage. Before the “April Showers”, it’s a good idea to make sure your gutters are clear for rainfall.
Test Your Soil
A soil testing kit can be purchased at most of your neighborhood’s hardware or lawn stores. This test is to determine if your soil is acidic, alkaline, or neutral. You’ll need to know this information before purchasing a fertilizer. This will also guide you to what bio-nutrients your lawn is lacking.
Winter can cause the pH levels in soil to become acidic, making it hard for your grass to thrive. When testing your soil, if you find that it has a pH below about a 6, a thin layer of lime can be added to increase the pH level.
Encourage your lawn’s growth with a spring fertilizer. The timing for fertilizer can be delicate, as lingering cold or early heat can stress grass. There’s much debate on this, but grass will receive fertilizer well in early spring. It’s essentially eating everything in sight because it’s been dormant. The key is to apply light layers so that strong grass will grow.
It’s important to note precarious looking trees. Snow and ice can do a number on limbs and branches, weakening trees and putting your home at risk. Spring is the prime time for severe storms so it’s best to take care of this issue before the lightning and wind bare down. If you have a tree that looks like it’s on its last limb (no pun intended) then we have suggestions for tree care here.
Mowing Maintenance and Essentials
You’ll need to give your mower a once-over now that it’s time to start using it again. This includes sharpening your blades, changing the oil, and emptying any old, remaining gasoline. A sharp blade is essential. If it’s not, you run the risk of the mower ripping off the tops of the grass blades instead of a nice, clean cut.
At this critical time in your grass’s life cycle, remember it’s always recommended to only cut 1/3 off of the top of the grass on any given mow. This prevents weeds from germinating and promotes deeper root development in your grass.
As a reminder, Great Green Grass isn’t just achieved in a single season. It takes year-round effort to obtain the lawn of your dreams. If this seems like a lot of work (it is), then we can definitely take some of it off of your hands.