Caring for your Lawn in Spring

The sight of new grass growing in spring often leads the homeowner to run out and spread fertilizer to help the young blades along. This is actually the opposite of recommended practices for most lawns. The proper time to apply fertilizer is in the fall, when the roots that will sustain the plants through the following summer are actively growing. Even if the fall feeding was missed, any spring feeding should be limited to a light feeding (1/2 pound of actual nitrogen, i.e., 5 pounds of 10-10-10, per 1000 sq. ft.) after the initial flush of growth has subsided, probably sometime in May or early June.

Though spring is the time to apply lime to your grass, this should only be done if the soil deems it necessary. Most lawn grasses grow best at a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0, so it’s good to have your soil’s pH analyzed every two to three years to be sure you are staying in that range. Horticultural experts always say that the soil test result should include recommendations on how much lime to apply on your lawn soil.

Horticultural studies have also proven that seed sowing efforts will have a good chance of getting optimum results during spring as long as your lawn is well watered and cared for with the right amount of fertilizer.  The grass will be stronger and healthier if you can water daily until the plants are established. Water approximately once a week throughout the summer, keeping in mind that the tops of the grass may look great, but the roots are not as long and dense as those of the grass in an established lawn.

Avoid cutting too short when your lawn requires its first cut. Mow to about two inches during the spring, then raise the cutting height another half inch when summer arrives. Mow frequently so that no more than one third of the grass blade is removed at one time.

It is recommended that you apply pre-emergent herbicides between the middle of March and the middle of April to control crabgrass and the emergence of bull worms. Crabgrass generally emerges about the time of dogwood bloom, and the pre-emergent herbicides used to control it will not affect crabgrass that is already up and growing.  March is still a little early for dethatching and actual pesticide application, so after taking care of the few necessary lawn chores for early spring, you can relax and save your energy for summer mowing.

Trees and shrubs surrounding your lawn will also need extra attention. Make sure you apply some amount of fertilizer on surrounding trees and shrubs so they won’t absorb the nutrients meant for your lawn.

These easy-to-follow maintenance tips can make your lawn the envy of your entire neighborhood.