March 25, 2010

Spring Lawn Care Tips

Last weekend, my sister called me and asked if I wanted to borrow the lawn dethatcher she rented.  When I had no idea what she was talking about, I quickly realized I don't know squat about lawn care.  Seriously, how does everyone else know when and what to do to their lawn?  I must have missed that pamphlet and reliable information about lawn care is surprisingly hard to find online.  But I did some research, and came across some Spring lawn care tips. 

First, apparently lawn dethatching is the process of ripping up any decomposing grass, dead roots, and other junk that has accumulated in your grass.  If you have too much of this thatch (or lawn junk as I call it), necessary water and nutrients won't reach your soil. Dethatching should be done around the start of April and September.


We borrowed the dethatcher machine not really knowing why it should be done (hey, it was free what more do I need to know), but it turns out the machine dug up a lot of our old lawn junk and made our grass look much fresher!


 Here are some additional spring lawn care tips I've researched:
  • Mow your grass as soon as it needs it, don't wait.  If you allow the grass to get too tall, you risk encouraging diseases.
  • Wait until mid or late Spring before fertilizing your lawn.  Fertilizing your lawn too early, like in March, can make your grass look green, but in the long run it can damage the root growth and your grass will suffer in the hot days of summer.
  • Crabgrass begins stirring up once the soil temperature has been over 55 degrees for 7-10 consecutive days, so early Spring is a good time to apply crabgrass pre-emergence treatments.  Generally, one treatment should be give around the start of April with another treatment around Mother's Day.  When applying crabgrass treatment, make sure to only apply it to the parts of your grass that need it, don't apply to healthy grass.
  • If you're adding grass seed, do it already!  After April seeding can be hit or miss, so add grass seed by mid-April.  Once seed is added, make sure it has good contact with the soil and don't allow it to dry out even if this means watering once or twice a day. 
  • If you're adding fresh sod, it can be added anytime the ground isn't frozen.  Just make sure to water frequently until the roots are established.  Avoid heavy activity on fresh sod but don't be afraid to mow it, mow as needed.
  • Aeration is the process of increasing the soil's air content.  This should be done in the Fall and again at the start of April if needed.  Minimally, aeration should be done once every 3-5 years, but doing it yearly is recommended.  Aeration is typically done with big spikey thing you push that pokes air holes into your lawn, a smaller spikey thing you roll, or a spikey rake (those are the scientific explanations), but I've also seen spikes that you slip onto your shoes for sale.  I haven't tried any of these methods, so I can't attest for how well they'll work.  Has anyone tried these types of products?

Are there any other lawn care tips I should know?  I'd also like to research some natural lawn care methods, as opposed to all of the chemical treatments that are sold.  Do you have any diy tips to share?

For more info, I found this lawn care guide from the University of Illinois and this article from Iowa State University. The University of Illinois article even included this handy guide:

No comments: