Yes, it is spring in Cleveland. One day can be 65 degrees and the next 35 degrees with snow. Just when you think that we have turned the corner to warmer weather, it snows, bringing you back to reality. In fact, trees, daffodils and tulips were starting to bloom this past week due to the warmer weather.
This weekend’s surprise snowfall notwithstanding, now is the time to start prepping your lawn for the spring. The best time to prepare a lawn for early spring, is to treat it properly in the late fall before the first snowfall. If you prepared your lawn at that time, then you will be a few steps ahead for spring lawn care. As the temperatures warm, the best thing to do is let the sun and soil do most of the work for the spring lawn.
Let the Lawn Prepping Begin!
Below is a guide for spring lawn care and preparation steps that need to be taken in order to have that great late spring and summer lawn.
- Two Types of Grass: There are two types of grass: cool-season grasses that grow in the spring and fall, but go dormant in the summer months and warm-season grasses that begin growing after the last spring frost, thrive by midsummer and are dormant in the winter months. The type of treatment from clean up to fertilization will depend on your type of grass.
- Clean Up: The soil should be completely dry before you start raking and cleaning the lawn. Doing clean up on soggy soil could damage any new grass growth. Remove leaves and debris and gently rake to encourage and separate the new grass shoots. Raking will also pick up any thatch that might have accumulated during the winter and will allow you to see if there are bald spots in your lawn. Raking helps to loosen the soil to remove the winter’s dead grass. It is like exfoliating the top layer of grass and soil. Aerating the soil can also help promote grass to grow. This step is usually done in the fall, but can also be done in the early spring.
- Testing the Lawn: Long winters can cause the pH level in the soil to become very acidic, which makes it harder for grasses to grow and thrive. A soil test will tell you how much nutrients or fertilizer a lawn needs during the spring and summer months. It can also help diagnose any problems with the lawn, garden and landscaping plants. If there is a high level of acid, then spreading a thin layer of lime over the lawn will help neutralize the acid and allow for new grass growth.
- Weed Control: Start weed control during the early spring months. Use a pre-emergent weed control, which works by preventing weed seed from germinating. Your first application of a pre-emergent herbicide should occur just as the forsythia bushes finish blooming in spring – that should stop crabgrass and other weeds before they have a chance to grow.
- Seeding the Lawn: Seeding the lawn will depend on whether you are just filling in bare spots or are redoing the entire lawn. The planting should be done according to the type of grass you have. Cool-season grasses can be planted when the ground temperature gets to be 50 degrees and above. The best time to plant cool-season grasses is actually during the fall months. If you have warm-season grasses, the planting of new seeds will have to wait until the ground is at 60 degrees or higher and the air temperature is continually in the 70’s.
- Fertilizing: If you fertilized your lawn in the fall, then there is not a need to do it right away in the spring. Cool-season grasses can hold the fertilizer during the fall winter and through spring. Warm-season grasses might need additional layer of fertilizer during late spring or early summer because they begin to soak up the nutrients once the weather warms up.
- Mowing: Do not start mowing the grass until your lawn needs it. Grass blades do best and continue to grow if you cut no more than a third of the blade’s length at a time.
- Watering: Cold air is very drying to plants and lawns. Once the grass starts growing during the summer months, a lawn should get at least one inch of water per week. It is good to keep the grass watered in the early spring, but most of that can be taken care of by nature. Don’t over-water the lawn in the spring as that will could damage new grass growth.
- Tune Up the Lawn Equipment: Make sure that your lawn equipment is ready for spring use. Inspect the lawn mower for any repairs that will need to be made before using it for the first time. If the machine is beyond repair, now is the time to invest in a new lawn mower. Sharpen the blades, clean the exterior and give the motor a good tune-up before use. Doing so will allow for easy use of the lawn mower during the entire summer season.
If the weather would just cooperate, now would be the perfect time to get the lawn ready for spring. That will come soon enough and before you know it, your lawn will look great for the summer months. Stay tuned for further lawn care and home gardening tips in future blog posts!