Spring Lawn Care Tips for Do-It-Yourselfers
Mar 20, 2014
We know that there are some of you who like to get outside and take care of your own lawn, and that’s great! There is just something about the smell of fresh cut grass… Here at M&M we have several customers that use our services only while they are away on vacation, and we are glad to help keep those yards looking great during those short-term times. We are here to help! So, for you “do-it-yourselfers”, here are some tips to help get your lawn looking great!
1. Cleaning and Repairing Your Lawn in Spring
- One common problem is uneven ground. Low spots cause poor drainage and high spots may be scalped by the mower. Grab your shovel and cut away those high spots and fill in those areas that are depressed.
- Another issue can be soil compaction. This often occurs in high traffic areas. Soil Compaction can keep grass from taking good root and allow hardy weeds to take over. If a garden fork won’t penetrate 2” into the soil, consider getting an aerator to help alleviate the problem.
- Thatch can be an issue, too. Thatch is essentially a blanket of the old dead grass on your lawn, and when it gets thick enough it can hinder water and nutrients from getting to your grass. It is a good idea to de-thatch your lawn every few years.
2. Planting Grass in the Spring
- Correct any soil conditions that have affected your lawn in the past. Consider having a soil test done to address any deficiencies in nutrients.
- Determine which type of seed will do best in your lawn given temperature and sun exposure. Remember that grass seed germinates around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Don’t ignore it once you’ve planted it. Water regularly to maintain soil moisture. Don’t water like you normally would. They key is to keep the soil and seed moist. Too much water and you may get some run-off.
- Mow once the grass reaches 3-4 inches in height. Try not to cut more than one-half an inch so as not to stress the plant.
3. Fertilizing in the Spring
- Once the grass is established, you can encourage growth and discourage weeds by fertilizing.
- Fertilizer can help or hurt. It must be used wisely. A slow-relaese nitrogen fertilizer is best at a rate of no more that 1 lb. per 1,000 sq. ft. Do this early in the season when the grass begins actively growing.
- Herbicides can be good too. With regard to pre-emergent, do not use this if you are planning on seeding as this will keep both weeds and your grass seed from germinating. Spread these according to the specific instructions of the manufacturer.
4. Mowing in the Spring
- Both mowing height and frequency are important to your lawn. It may reduce the number of times that you have to mow your lawn but cutting your grass is harmful to your lawn in the long run. Mowing too short removes nutrients stored in blades and exposes the soil to sunlight allowing weeds to take hold more easily.
- Taller grass is better able to combat weeds thanks to a larger root system and better heat tolerance. It also shades the soil allowing it to retain the water more effectively.
- Mow at a height specific to the type of grass in your lawn: bermudagrass - 1-2 inches, fescue 2-3.5 inches, Kentucky bluegrass 2.5-3 inches
- Mow often enough that you’re only removing the top 1/3 of the blades. This places less stress on the grass and the smaller clippings decompose more easily.
- Avoid bagging the clippings; the added organic matter is actually quite good for the soil.
5. Lawn Care Equipment Maintenance in the Spring
- Remove the gasoline. Leftover gasoline can become stale, choke the carburetor, and cause rust.
- Disconnect the spark plug. This disables the engine making it safer to service.
- Remove the blade. This goes for mowers and edgers, too. Replace or sharpen accordingly.
- Drain the oil. This is specific to 4-stroke engines like the ones typically in walk-behind mowers and lawn tractors. It is best to perform an oil change every 30 hours of use. Change the oil filter, too!
- Clean the equipment. Remove all accumulated grease and stuff from underneath the mower and reattach the blade.
- Fill the oil tank. Make sure to use the oil type recommended for your mowers.
- Replace the air filter. Most residential motors are air cooled. A clean filter allows the motor to run more easily keeping the engine cooler which means it runs more smoothly.
- Replace the spark plug. Although the old one may still be working, this is a cheap way to ensure optimal performance.
We hope these tips are helpful. If M&M can ever be of assistance, please contact us.