For many, springtime means the return of longer days, flowers blooming, outdoor barbecues, lawn games, warmer weather and luscious landscapes. While these days may still seem distant for some of you in the north – even though we’ve entered the new season – our outdoor spaces are coming alive and it will feel like spring before you know it.
No matter which region you live in, now is the ideal time to prepare your yard so you can create an at-home oasis as the temperatures rise. The winter months can do a number on grass and gardens, so it may take a bit of a transition period to bring some green back to that lawn. By laying some proactive steps now, you’ll have a safe, fun and revitalized al fresco environment for kids, pets and yourself by late spring or summer.
Top Tips for a Greener Lawn this Spring
- “Clean” your lawn.
Now is typically the time to grab the rake, a collection bin and a helping hand! If you live in an area with colder weather, wait until the snow has melted and the ground has begun to defrost. Clear out dried leaves, twigs, dead grass and any other debris. Rake, but do not get carried away attempting to scrape up every single leaf as you do not want to do further damage to the grass along the way.
Without removing the “mess” often left behind from winter, a thick layer of thatch may form, which will obstruct nutrients and water trying to make their way into the soil and roots you’re trying to bring back to health. Removing these bits will also give you a clearer view of the state of your grass, as well as increases soil contact for when you’re ready to re-seed.
Even if you live in warmer climates, this is still a prime time for preparation as the weather is often sunny, not too rainy and not too hot … yet, anyway. You want to prepare your lawn before the world around you gets too humid and bugs get ready to make your home their own.
Give trees and shrubs a trim.
If you followed our tips for bug-proofing your home for winter, you likely trimmed your trees and bushes, but now is the time to give your foliage another pruning. This goes hand-in-hand with cleaning your lawn and enables you to better identify dry spots that may need a little more love. This practice also creates more space for new sprouts at the beginning of spring.
Aerate the grass.
If you’re new to lawn maintenance, this may be a new concept for you. During winter, the soil can become solid, which inhibits the flow of nutrients, water and air needed for grass to flourish. Lawn aeration helps by punching small holes into the ground, which leads to more water, nutrients and oxygen in the deeper spaces closer to lower root zones. Smaller yards can be aerated with spike boots or cleats or by buying or renting special equipment designed for aeration. After aerating, your lawn might look a little funky at first, but this step is important to promote new growth.
Reseed, as needed.
Depending on the state of your post-winter grass, you may or may not need to reseed. If you have thin or bare patches of grass, reseeding now allows the proper amount of time to repair areas that were damaged during the winter, growing healthier, stronger grass before summer. Depending on the state, you may only need to seed patchy areas or extend them to your entire yard.
To choose the best seeds, aim to replicate what you currently have in your yard. If you’re starting fresh, know your USDA growing zone to select seeds that are best for your region and lawn setting.
This step can also be helpful in warmer regions like South Florida, a thicker, fuller lawns help to prevent the weeds and erosion that tend to set in during late spring and summer.
- Feed your grass with fertilizer.
Unfortunately grass growth is not as easy as laying the seeds. Like most other plants, grass needs a nutritional boost. Different grasses need different nutrients, so do your research or consult an expert to determine which fertilizer is best for your lawn. Once you begin fertilizing, make sure you continue on a regular basis.
If choosing to add weed control to your maintenance plan, this is the time to consider that as well, though be mindful of how these chemicals and nutrients will react with one another and your grass. Many herbicides intended to ward off weeds can also kill your grass.
- Mulch in warmer climates.
Not all plants benefit from mulch, but it can be a helpful ingredient in certain areas of your yard during warmer weather. New mulch enables water and nutrients to get to the shrubs and other plants around your grass, while also preventing too much evaporation. As the mulch decomposes, it can also add organic matter to the soil, giving it even more nutrients.
- Water in moderation.
This is a tricky one – quench your lawn’s thirst, but don’t soak it! If you are not reseeding, you do not need to water it immediately, especially if there is rain in sight. If you seed your lawn, you want to begin by hand-watering enough that the seeds are damp, but not drenched. Watering by hand is more time-consuming, but offers a better balance of moisture until the seeds germinate, plus decreases the chance of root rot. Once germination occurs, you can move onto sprinklers a couple times a week in the evening or early morning.
If you live in one of the dryer zones, it is especially important to make sure your irrigation system is fully operational before spring, or your green grass may end up brown.
- Carefully mow the lawn.
You’re almost there! Once you laid the foundation with the other steps, you can take a breather before it’s time to mow. Give your lawn some time to replenish; even allowing it to grow longer than you would like, at first. Consider waiting until the grass is 3 to 3.5 inches before mowing the lawn for the first time this season.
As a preemptive step to preparing your lawn, you may also want to give your lawn equipment a tune-up. Check your lawn mower and weed whackers to make sure they have fresh, sharp blades to give your grass a cleaner cut and healthier appearance throughout the spring and summer.
The great news is, many of these lawn preparation tips will also help with the amount of bugs eating at your yard—and your ankles. For more mosquito prevention advice and ideas, check out our other blog posts.
And we may be a little biased, but one of the best ways you can prepare for the spring is to stock up on Bug Bite Thing suction tools for bite and sting relief so you always have one on hand. They not only come in handy while working in the yard, but they will be of increasing use as you venture onto more backyard hangouts and outdoor adventures this season.