Spring can be an exciting season for homeowners with a lawn and yard full of trees and plants. Your tree branches start bursting with leaves again. Your flowers begin to bloom. And your grass grows greener — or, at least, you hope it does.
Unfortunately, you can’t expect your lawn to flourish on its own. If you want beautiful, lush grass, you need to tackle some critical landscaping tasks first.
The following guide will walk you through the best spring lawn care tips. If you’re not sure if you can complete these steps on your own, don’t fret — there are plenty of landscaping and lawn care professionals in your area who can do this for you. And by the time spring ends and summer begins, you’ll be happy you worked with an expert.
If this is your first time caring for a lawn, figure out what type of grass you have before you do anything else. Warm-season and cool-season grasses each have their own maintenance needs, so it’s important to care for your grass type accordingly.
Here’s a quick look at the two different grass types:
You can ask your lawn care professional to help you identify what kind of grass you have — and what special steps you should take to ensure it stays healthy throughout the spring. For example,
Kick-off your spring lawn care checklist with a soil test so you can determine whether it has the proper pH balance and mix of nutrients. If not, you might need to fertilize your lawn and address any ongoing issues, according to the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).
During a soil test, your lawn care company will check for the following nutrients:
If your soil has an adequate amount of nutrients, your grass, trees, shrubs and other plants have the best shot at growing strong and resisting diseases.
Armed with your soil test results and the recommendation of what nutrients your soil desperately needs, it’s time to fertilize your lawn.
When shopping for fertilizer, pay attention to the labels and numbers. Fertilizer comes with three numbers on the label, and they represent the percentage of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium found in the bag. You can think of the three numbers as a prescription of sorts.
How much fertilizer you should add to your lawn depends on its size and (of course) your soil’s condition. However, don’t overdo it. Applying too much fertilizer can damage your lawn and burn the grass. And (believe it or not) your grass may grow too fast. If possible, always opt for a fertilizer that has a “slow-release nitrogen” label.
Generally, it’s recommended that you fertilize your trees and shrubs in early spring. You may be able to fertilize your shrubs, trees and other plants at the same time you’re fertilizing your lawn — just read the labels first, and make sure the fertilizer doesn’t contain herbicides or insecticides. You should also consider fertilizing your trees and shrubs before you apply mulch.
Unsure of what to apply, how much and when? Offload this task to a lawn care company. They can apply the right amount of fertilizer to your lawn, trees and plants.
Mowing is an important part of maintaining a healthy lawn. Some experts recommend mowing your lawn every three to five days or once a week. But it all depends on high your grass blades should be. For example, the NALP recommends that in the spring and fall, cool-season grasses should be 2-3 ½ inches high. A lawn mowing professional can advise you on how tall your grass should be.
If you plan to mow your lawn yourself, make sure your lawn mower is in good shape. For example, if the mower blades are blunted or dull, sharpen or replace them. You can also hire a lawn mower repair service to take a look at your mower if you suspect there's a bigger problem with it.
But if you don't have the time — or energy — to mow your lawn yourself every week or so, find a professional who can do this for you at a reasonable price.
You might be tempted to apply grass seeds to your lawn, but spring isn't necessarily the best time to do this — it's the second-best time. Ideally, you should seed your lawn in late summer or early fall, states the NALP.
But if your lawn sustained heavy damage during the winter, your lawn care professional might recommend seeding this spring. Also, talk to your lawn service to determine if you should aerate or dethatch your lawn before seeding or overseeding.
Everything about plant health truly starts with the soil, which is why aerating your lawn is a common step many homeowners take during the spring season (though you can also aerate your lawn in the fall).
Compacted soil and lawn thatch can make it difficult for your grass to grow and thrive. Fortunately, aeration can loosen the dirt, ensuring that water, air and nutrients have access to your grass roots. The process allows plants to absorb more critical nutrients, gives their roots ample room to grow strong and prevents diseases from attacking your lawn.
You can aerate your lawn by yourself if you have an aerator (or if you can rent one from a retailer). But better yet, talk to your lawn care professional about scheduling this service. Request a cost estimate for lawn aeration early in the spring season, and you might be able to beat the rush of homeowners who need their lawns aerated, too.
All throughout your lawn, you probably have dead grass, stems, roots, stolons and rhizomes. While thatch can be good in moderation, too much can suffocate your grass, lead to insect infestations and attract lawn diseases. For this reason, you might need to take extra steps to dethatch your lawn in the spring.
Aim to dethatch your cool-season grasses in the early spring (and early fall), so your grass can heal before the critical growing season begins. However, the Spruce states that spring is the best time to dethatch both cool-season and warm-season grasses. Again, check with your lawn care service if you're unsure if your particular grass should be dethatched in the spring.
You can use a dethatcher or a rake to pull away thatch, but don’t overdo it. Some thatch (a layer of ½ inch) is beneficial to keep because it acts as mulch.
For lawns with a heavy accumulation of thatch, a professional can utilize a specialized power rake to properly dethatch the area. And, they can help you pinpoint the right time to dethatch your lawn. But as the NALP points out, dethatching may release weed seeds into the open, which can cause more weeds to grow. Consult with an expert to find out if springtime is the right time to dethatch your lawn.
The best way to prevent weeds (such as crabgrass and dandelions) from invading your lawn is to stay on top maintenance and follow basic tips. For example, when mowing, don’t cut your grass too short. Use mulch to smother weed seeds, and consider implementing pre-emergent herbicides and other weed killers into your weed control strategy.
When in doubt, just contact a weed control service near you. They can help you address weeds early on and recommend the best course of action for your particular lawn.
Keeping your lawn green is easiest when you utilize some sort of irrigation or sprinkler system. In fact, a sprinkler system can actually save you money on water costs — as long as it operates more efficiently than your traditional garden hose.
To ensure your irrigation system is working efficiently and properly, test it out in early spring before the weather gets too hot and the sun wreaks havoc on your grass and plants. But, also make sure the weather is warm enough to run water through your system. (If it’s too cold outside, you could run the risk of water freezing in your sprinkler lines.)
Did you hire a professional to do your sprinkler blow-out in the fall? The odds are good they’ll be happy to come back out and turn your system on. A lawn sprinkler company can help test all your lines so you can address any issues before the warmer season is fully in swing.
After the coldest, darkest winter days have subsided, walk around your property and look for any damage your landscaping and plants may have sustained during the winter months. For example, you might discover:
After walking around your property, it’s time to start your outdoor spring cleaning. Target your plant beds, garden area and any location in your lawn where debris has accumulated. As you remove dead leaves, branches and other organic matter, consider hanging on to these materials to use as mulch.
By implementing these spring lawn care tips, you can create a beautiful outdoor living space that you’ll be proud of all summer. Use Thumbtack to search for a local landscaper or lawn care professional. Get free cost estimates for lawn services in your area, set up a consultation or schedule an appointment with a pro today so you can give your lawn the best chance at success this spring.
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