10 Essential Tasks of Spring Lawn Care

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As your lawn comes out of dormancy in the spring and starts actively growing for the season, the following spring lawn-care tasks will make sure your grass gets off to a great start.

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Springtime brings about new growth and rejuvenation, including your lawn, which has been dormant during the colder winter months. The weather starts warming, and snippets of green grass start showing up here and there amid the brown that has covered your yard for months. Spring lawn care is essential to give it everything it needs for a successful, healthy growing season.

The following tasks will take a few days to accomplish — and you can always enlist the help of other household members — but they’re worth the time and effort.

10 Essential Tasks of Spring Lawn Care
Eliminate Snow Mold

Snow mold is often seen as the snow melts from the grass, appearing as pink or gray spots with a cobweb-like matter matting the grass into patches. These spots are caused by cold-weather fungi when significant snowfall happens before the ground freezes; this snow layer creates the perfect environment for fungal spore growth.

10 Essential Tasks of Spring Lawn Care

The problem, though, is snow mold isn’t treatable by fungicides. If left untreated, pink snow mold kills the roots and crown, and gray snow mold affects the grass blades.

If your lawn has snow mold, use a lawn rake to break up the matted patches, improving the air circulation at the base of the blades and through the bottom of the turf.

Dethatch or Power Rake

You can accomplish this first task in a couple of ways: traditional raking, power raking, or mechanical dethatching. All three achieve the same goals but to different extents. They all work to reduce the thatch layer to improve the movement of fertilizer, water, and oxygen into the soil.

Thatch is a debris layer that builds up on the soil surface underneath where the grass is actively growing. It occurs when conditions slow the breakdown of dead and living stems, shoots, and roots accumulated on the mineral soil. Thatch can be beneficial to the soil when found in a thin layer. When the thatch layer becomes too thick, it affects permeability and harbors insects and disease-causing organisms.

Dethatching and power raking remove part of the thatch layer to improve permeability to different degrees. Dethatching removes small amounts and is less aggressive; power raking is a more aggressive process that uses blades to remove thatch.

10 Essential Tasks of Spring Lawn Care
Aerate

Many people think dethatching and aerating accomplish the same thing, but they are pretty different. Aerating removes small cores of soil, thatch, and grass to relieve soil compaction and improve the movement of water and nutrients down into the soil. As discussed above, dethatching only removes part of the thatch layer.

10 Essential Tasks of Spring Lawn Care

You can hire a landscape professional to perform aeration on your lawn, or rent an aerator to do it yourself.

Overseed Warm-Season Grasses

If you grow warm-season grasses in your turf, it’s best to overseed bare patches in the spring. These types of grasses put on the most growth in July and August, when it’s the hottest. Spring seeding allows the root systems to establish before it gets too hot, and the grass has plenty of time to grow before it goes dormant in the fall.

10 Essential Tasks of Spring Lawn Care

Warm-season grasses include Bahiagrass, Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass, carpetgrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustine grass, and Zoysia grass.

Overseed cool-season grasses in the fall.

Test the Soil

Before the season gets off and running, it’s a good idea to do a quick check of the soil pH, especially if you live in an area prone to acidic or alkaline soil levels. Most plants, grass included, like the soil pH between 6.0 and 7.5, which is right about neutral or slightly acidic. When the soil pH level moves too far from neutral, it impacts the availability of soil nutrients, causing deficiencies or toxicities.

To test the soil pH, you can purchase inexpensive strips of litmus paper or a more expensive handheld pH testing meter, or you can have a sample professionally analyzed for a fee.

10 Essential Tasks of Spring Lawn Care
Fertilize

Feeding your lawn in the spring helps prepare it for the heat of summer. When grasses come out of dormancy in the spring, the root systems grow and store carbohydrate reserves. Once summer rolls around, grass growth and carbohydrate production slow, so the grass depends upon the stored reserves as energy sources.

10 Essential Tasks of Spring Lawn Care

The best time to fertilize in the spring is when the soil temperature, not the air temperature, reaches at least 55°F. Look for a granular product that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for the best results.

Apply a Pre-Emergent Herbicide

The best way to control ways is to start early in the season before they even germinate. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn in early spring before soil temperatures start warming up (but after you’ve overseeded with grass seed). A pre-emergent doesn’t kill the seeds but interrupts processes that prevent the seed from making it through germination.

10 Essential Tasks of Spring Lawn Care
Prep Your Lawnmower

Before you fire up your lawnmower for the season, spend a little time getting it ready so that it’s running in peak condition. Make sure to check the spark plug and replace it if needed, change the oil, clean or replace the air filter, sharpen the blade(s), clean built-up grass clippings from the mower deck, and finish by oiling all axles and control levers.

10 Essential Tasks of Spring Lawn Care

When you start mowing, always start at a little higher mowing height than the recommended level for your grass and never remove more than one-third of the grass blade when cutting. Over time gradually drop the height down to where it is recommended, but continue to remove only a third at a time.

Remove Weeds

Even though you did put a pre-emergent herbicide down, chances are some weeds still sprouted in your lawn. To keep a few weeds from becoming a bigger problem, pull them by hand or apply a selective, post-emergent herbicide.

Manually pulling weeds is time-consuming, although very effective when done correctly. Use a flathead screwdriver or a specially designed weed popper tool to remove the entire plant, roots, and all. This keeps the weed from regrowing.

10 Essential Tasks of Spring Lawn Care

Selective herbicides target non-grassy or broadleaf weeds, so they are generally safe for lawn applications (always check the label before applying) and won’t kill the grass. They kill down to the root so that the weed won’t resprout.

Turn on Sprinkler System
10 Essential Tasks of Spring Lawn Care

If your lawn has an automatic sprinkler system, this is the time to give it a once-over. Turn the system on, making sure all valves are correctly positioned. Then check all pipes, lines, heads, and nozzles for leaks or cracks and replace any broken parts. Also, adjust the spray patterns and alignment for maximum efficiency.