It’s that time of year again: winter weather has finally slowed and temperatures are rising. These tips will help you start spring off right, ensuring your lawn will flourish while reducing the maintenance it will need throughout the year.
1. Clean up the Lawn
Start off by removing downed branches and inspecting trees for any damage that may need to be addressed. Pay particular attention to split or broken branches and have them removed by a tree service so you can be safe while on your lawn. Raking up lawn debris will keep snow mold and insects at bay while making it easier for new blades of grass to penetrate the soil. Removing any snow left over from snowbanks will let your entire lawn come out of hibernation at the same time for even growth.
Now that the lawn has been cleared, you can address damage to the ground cover caused by salt, snow, and snowplows. Reseeding early in the season will give the seeds a better chance of taking root.
3. Stop Weeds in their Tracks
Keeping weeds out of your lawn requires work throughout the year, but at the start of the growing season, the biggest threat is crabgrass. To keep this weed from sprouting on your lawn and becoming a nuisance through the year, apply a pre-emergent herbicide before temperatures reach 55 degrees F (13 degrees C.) Try to separate seeding and treatment as much as possible: the herbicide isn’t selective, so it could end up preventing both crabgrass and desirable grasses including the seed you just applied from sprouting.
Core aeration breaks up the soil and gets oxygen to the root system, helping to kick start spring growth. Again, you need to get this done before weeds have a chance to take root: aerate the lawn before temperatures hit 55 degrees F (13 degrees C,) and the newly opened soil will settle enough to keep weeds from sprouting.
Have a soil test done as soon as possible so you can add the exact nutrients your lawn needs for healthy growth. Grass grows best if the soil pH is between 6.2 and 7.2. In most parts of the U.S, the soil will be acidic, indicated by a low pH number. This soil should be treated with lime to raise the pH. In the Southwest and Central U.S, soil tends to be alkaline, indicated by a high pH number. Sulfur, gypsum, peat moss, and organic fertilizer can all be applied to lower the pH. If you have your test done by a local extension office, they should be able to tell you exactly what you’ll need to add to the soil.
Applying fertilizer now will give the grass more time to absorb it, preparing it for the summer heat. It also gives you more options as the rush for fertilizer in the spring can lead to shortages of certain formulas at garden and home improvement stores.
6. Get Your Equipment Out of Storage
You may only need your mower to start off with, but having all of your equipment ready will save you trouble if you need it after experiencing unseasonable weather. Buy fresh gas, stock up on fuel stabilizer, and follow the manufacturer’s directions to get your equipment up and running again.
Need parts? Shank’s Lawn Equipment is a certified dealer for most popular brands of equipment including Honda, Briggs & Stratton, Cub Cadet, MTD, Troy Bilt, Kohler, Kawasaki, and Echo Bear Cat. We’re located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. That’s just off Route 11, or you can take Exit 10 to Marion if you’re driving in from I-81.
Not a local? Visit us on the web at www.shankslawn.com. We can ship your order anywhere in the U.S. and Canada.