As leaves start sprouting from the barren trees and your lawn shows signs of green, you know it is time to start preparing your lawn for the seasons ahead. But spring is a delicate time for your lawn. The soil and plants require special attention, while the weather brings unpredictability that could throw you back into the white blanket of winter.
So, when should you start spring lawn care and what tasks does this care include? We talked to the pros at samedayyardscapes.ca to gain some insights and share those below.
Care for Your Type of Grass
Your type of grass plays a significant role in spring lawn care. These types include cool season grasses or warm season grasses.
Cool season grasses include rye, bluegrass and fescue, all of which have a first growth spurt in spring and a major spurt in the fall. Because these grasses go dormant in summer, your spring care must focus on building the grass’ strength for those hot months ahead.
Warm season grasses like St. Augustine, Zoysia, centipede and Bermuda do very well in the heat. These types go dormant in winter and start their annual growth spurt after the last frost in spring. By midsummer, they are at their peak of growth.
Be Gentle When Cleaning Up
You should wait until the soil dries out before doing any heavy yard work. Otherwise, stomping around on the ground and raking with force can disturb the damp soil and compact it. At the same time, this activity damages new shoots of grass. Save spring cleaning until the soil is dry. This cleaning will help ward off disease and pests, just as you make things look better by removing leaves and other debris.
The best practice where there is heavy snow and the associated snow piles is to spread these melting piles out with a shovel. This helps the snow melt faster and avoids smothering a single patch of grass under the heavy weight and cold of the snow.
Control Weeds or Plant Grass
Spring is the right time for pre-emergent weed control, regardless of the type of grass you have on the lawn. This activity keeps weeds from sprouting in the first place. After cleaning up your lawn, apply the first application of pre-emergent herbicide. After about three months, add a second application.
If you want to plant grass, you cannot use pre-emergent herbicide. The weed control will keep your new grass seeds from sprouting. If you need to plant grass to fill in bare spots, follow these rules:
- For cool-season grasses, plant once the air temperatures are in the 60s Fahrenheit and the ground temperatures are in the 50s
- For warm-season grasses, plant when the temps are in the 70s Fahrenheit and soil temps are in the 60s
It is best to plant cool season grasses in the fall. But during the spring you can plant seeds to patch bare spots. In late spring, you can fertilize your warm season grass.
Fertilize Your Lawn
For cool season grasses, you should avoid heavily fertilizing in the spring. Doing so will make new shoots’ survival difficult during the hot summer weather. If you need to boost your lawn that is in bad shape, only lightly fertilize in spring using a slow-release fertilizer. Heavier applications are best saved for fall.
For your warm season grass, when the lawn “greens” and starts growing is the best time to fertilize. This is typically in April or May, well beyond the last frost.
Treat Your Soil
Conduct a soil test in spring to determine its health. Lime is best applied to acidic soil with a pH below 6 during early spring or anytime during the growth season. Do not add lime to wilted grass or a lawn covered with frost. Also avoid applying lime within three weeks of fertilizing. The ingredients become less effective through interaction.
Other Key Spring Lawn Tasks
Other key tasks to perform as part of your spring care include:
- Insect control
- Lawn equipment maintenance