What is the proper lawn care for spring? My lawn is a mess.
Particularly after a winter where there is extremely cold weather, there may be a considerable amount of damage on the lawn. Melting snow forms ice during the winter and ice can smother areas of the lawn causing them to die. Mole damage is common after a winter of snow. As well, the regular stress from over wintering makes the lawn unsightly as the snow disappears. Snow mold is another common problem after winter.
As soon as most of the moisture has left the lawn and it can be walked on without making any marks, the first clean up chore can occur. The first step is a thorough raking over the entire lawn using a leaf rake. This will fluff the trampled grass removing most of the dead grass and any remaining debris from winter. Once the raking has been completed, it is easier to assess where there may need to be top dressing and seed. A little topsoil or peat moss applied with some grass seed to any areas that are dead or need thickening can be applied. The next step is to fertilize the lawn. Grass naturally grows more vigorously with cool and damp spring conditions. That is the time when the most nutrients are needed. An application of high Nitrogen (the first number) will encourage fast green up of the lawn.
As well as encouraging fast new growth, fertilizers applied in the spring discourage weeds from developing as they encourage the grass to grow more vigorously so it can better compete against weeds. For anyone who prefers not to put on Bio Weed N Feed (corn gluten) later, then the spring application of lawn fertilizer is important. Fertilizer should be applied on a warm, dry day, and then watered in or followed by a rainfall. Don't applied fertilizer to wet grass because most of the particles of fertilizer will stick to the wet blades of grass rather than settling into the soil where they are needed. Weeds do not become an issue until later in May and June.
For lawns that are well established and need either aeration or have become very heavily thatched, spring is a good time for the aerating and dethatching process. Both of these remedial treatments require special equipment that is either available to rent or in the case of dethatching can be purchased as an attachment to your lawn mower blade. Both of these processes rejuvenate the lawn and encourage it to be healthier
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