Spring maintenance leads to a healthy summer lawn. Winter can compact your soil, change the pH of your soil, and create an environment that leads to weeds and disease. It is important that you clean, fertilize and mow your yard early in the spring.
If your yard is already well-maintained, a light raking once the ground has dried out is all you have to do. If you see problem areas in your lawn when the snow melts, you should address them quickly.
A common problem is soil compaction in high-traffic areas that make it hard for grass to take root, which allows weeds to take over. Use a garden fork to test for this problem. If the tines will not penetrate at least 2 inches into the soil, it is compacted and should be aerated by removing small plugs of soil from your lawn.
Once you have cleaned up your lawn, you should think about reseeding any areas that are brown or bare. Grass seed germinates when the soil temperature is 65 degrees. Water regularly to maintain moisture and don’t forget to fertilize with a slow-release, low-nitrogen product. By applying a combination of fertilizers and herbicides, you can promote your lawn’s growth and keep the weeds at bay. Fertilizer can produce a thick and lush lawn, but it can also damage the grass if it is not used properly. Timing is important, it should be applied early in the season when the grass begins growing, but not too early because lingering cold can stress the grass. Herbicide must also be used carefully. How well they work depends on when they are used. Be aware of your treatment if you plan to plant new grass because herbicides can prevent your grass seeds from germinating. The best way to keep weeds away is to have a healthy lawn.
Mow your grass when it reaches 3 or 4 inches. Try not to cut off more than a half-inch because doing so can stress your grass by removing nutrients stored in the blades and by exposing the soil to sunlight which allows the weeds to take over more easily. Taller grass has a better chance of competing with the weeds because it has a larger root system and tolerance for heat. Taller grass also shades the ground which allows the soil to retain moisture. It is a good idea to cut your grass at the tallest height recommended for your grass type as follows: Bermudagrass: 1-2 inches, Fescue: 2-3 1/2 inches, Kentuchy Bluegrass: 2-3 1/2 inches, Zoysia: 1/2-1 1/2 inches, St Augustine: 2-4 inches.
You should avoid bagging your clippings. By mowing your grass often and only cutting the top 1/3 of the blades, the clippings are able to decompose more easily and this added organic matter is very good for your soil.