Which is best, to fertilize or treat a lawn? Spring lawn care is much less time intensive than fall lawn care. If you prepared your lawn properly in the late fall, there should be very little for you to do once the weather begins to get warm again. The most important part of spring lawn care is to make sure that the lawn has plenty of opportunity to gently come back to life during the early spring months. If you do it right, the sun and soil will do most of the work for you.
Fall Lawn Care Impacts Spring Lawn Care
The best time to prepare your lawn is in the late fall just before it goes dormant for the winter. If you treated your grass properly during the fall, it has had all winter to germinate and prepare itself to grow heartily as soon as the temperatures begin to rise. If you didn’t take proper care of your lawn in the fall, however, you will have more work to do once spring arrives.
Sometimes you don’t have any control over how the lawn was treated the previous fall, in which case your best bet is to treat the lawn as if it received no winter preparation at all.
Don’t Start Too Early
It can be tempting to get out the lawn tools and attack your yard just as soon as it is warm enough to go outside without a coat on. Be patient, though, and let your lawn wake itself up gradually. If you spend too much time on your lawn before it is fully green, you run the risk of compacting the grass or killing new shoots before they have a chance to mature. Wait until your lawn has turned mostly green before you begin mowing or aerating in the spring.
Begin with Raking
Raking your lawn is probably how you finished working in the yard late last fall. In the spring it is a good idea to begin everything with that same rake. Give your yard a thorough, deep raking before you begin to mow or treat the grass.
Raking allows you to pull up any thatch that may have accumulated over the winter when the grass was less springy. It also gives you a chance to find any dead spots or compacted areas that need special attention. When a lawn becomes compacted, you need to use an aerator to loosen the soil and allow the grass to grow more easily once more.
Test for Soil Acidity
Most home improvement stores and garden centers like ACE & True Value sell do it yourself soil pH tests. These tests are a valuable tool as you prepare your lawn for the summer. Harsh, long winters can cause the pH levels in your soil to become very acidic, which makes it difficult for most grasses to thrive.
If you find that your soil has a high acid level, you can spread a thin layer of lime over your lawn. The lime neutralizes the acid and makes the soil better able to support new grass growth.
Fertilizing in the spring
If you properly fertilized your lawn in the fall, there is probably no need to apply another layer of fertilizer in the spring. Cool season grasses in particular are good at holding on to fertilizer from the fall and using it all winter.
There is a good chance that your cool season grass is still utilizing the fertilizer from the fall throughout the spring and into the summer. Warm season grasses may need a fresh layer of fertilizer during the spring because they begin to soak up the nutrients as soon as the weather gets warmer.
Dealing with Weeds
If you know that your lawn is prone to weeds, early spring can be a good time to apply herbicides to prevent the weeds from developing. It is much easier to get rid of persistent weeds before they have a chance to form than to deal with them once they have fully matured. Getting rid of weeds is another aspect of lawn care that is most effective if it is done in the fall.
If you treat your lawn for weeds in the late fall, you will probably not have as many to deal with in the spring. A light application of pre-emergent weed killer in the spring should take care of any of the weeds that survived your fall treatment. Don’t overdo the spring weed killer, however, or you may damage the new grass that is starting to grow.