Before you set out the patio furniture and fire up the grill, get your lawn ready for spring by following these easy tips. They will help you get a head start this spring and make your lawn care efforts more rewarding this year.
Get plucky. Spring can be the best season for weed plucking because weed roots are shorter and not as tough. Spray on vinegar or pluck out weeds using a fork or claw tool. To prevent weeds growing back, use corn gluten which also works as an organic fertilizer. To cover over unsightly bare spots, you can sprinkle grass seed and compost.
Rake once, and rake hard. On dry spring days, get out the rake to remove dead grass and matted grass. Use a stiff rake and apply plenty of elbow grease. Aggressive raking eliminates the need for costlier machine-dependent processes such as de-thatching. (Thatch is dead grass tissue.) Raking should also be done before you apply seed to your lawn.
Top it up. Apply a quarter-inch layer of topsoil and compost to level out your lawn and add nutrients. Topsoil also reduces thatches. If your lawn has holes, fill them with a little soil, rake in the soil until it is level, and then apply seed.
Avoid a close shave. If wet weather has meant postponing spring mowing, set your mower higher. Mow frequently after the first spring mow. Mow when your grass reaches just below 4 inches. Each time you mow, change the direction to reduce the build-up of clippings.
Start spreading the seed. Spread seed in the spring (ideally before May) to keep your lawn thick and healthy. To ensure your lawn is getting all the nutrients it needs, add compost or topsoil to the seed; this also improves water retention. To seed by hand, scatter half the seeds while walking in one direction, and half at right angles to the first direction.
There are many types of seed. Kentucky bluegrass provides a lush, dark green lawn. Fine fescue is a lighter green grass ideal for shadier parts of your lawn. Your choice of seed should match growing conditions: analyze whether your lawn needs a shady or sunny mix. When you spread seed, remember that moisture is the key to ensuring that the seed takes root. Don’t let water puddle or run off.
Make moss history. Moss develops due to growing conditions such as soil with too much acid, too little light, and poor drainage. You may not be able to change sunlight in your yard or garden, but you can fix problems such as drainage and acid levels with sand and lime.
Apply lime to reduce the acid in your soil after heavy winter rains. Grass prefers alkaline soil but rains wash away nutrients. Crushed egg shell lime is organic and eco-friendly. Compost also acts to neutralize acid.
Each spring begin your lawn and garden care with a simple pH test of your soil by inserting a pH thermometer; a pH above 6.5 means your soil is acidic.
If changing the pH level is a challenge, consider acid-loving blueberry and strawberry, heathers, holly, hydrangeas, azaleas, ferns, primroses and groundcovers such as periwinkle, bugleweed and foamflower. Willow and oak trees also thrive in acidic soil.