Spring has finally sprung for most of us, and if you’re anything like me you’re now watching the last snow of the year give way to a winter-battered lawn. As new homeowners we found ourselves overwhelmed at the idea of keeping our lawn healthy and beautiful. Grass Seed USA, a coalition of grass seed farmers and turf specialists, have offered to sponsor this post as part of our partnership with the Mom It Forward Influencer Network, and provide a list of tips for creating a healthy spring lawn. Caring for the lawn around our homes is so much more than just keeping the grass as green as the neighbors – it provides our families with a place to gather, relax and play, plus well cared for green spaces are also known to reduce stress and improve mental health. A healthy lawn protects your property as well – grass is one of the most inexpensive and efficient ways to reduce wind and water erosion.
I also recently learned that a healthy lawn can reduce your carbon footprint by absorbing and storing away carbon. A lawn of just 50 square feet is enough to meet the oxygen needs of a family of four. We are always teaching our boys the importance of caring for our environment, and I’m really glad that I can add caring for our backyard to the list of things we do for our planet!
So what should we be doing each spring to prepare our lawn for a great summer? Follow these tips for a beautiful, healthy summer-ready lawn!
Step 1: Rake – Rake your lawn to remove dead grass, old leaves and any other debris that accumulated over the winter. Raking enables you to see any bare or worn areas that need attention, and it also increases soil contact when seeding and allows new young grass to grow more easily.
Step 2: Aerate – Lawns that are heavily trafficked or buried under large piles of snow for a significant amount of time can suffer from soil compaction. You can hire a professional to aerate your lawn for you, or you can rent a core aerator, whose hollow tines will pull small plugs of soil out of the ground, allowing increased movement of water, nutrients and oxygen into the soil. Aeration can also increase the soil contact with seeds and promote new growth.
Step 3: Seed – Spring is the ideal time to reseed thin or bare patches in existing lawns or to establish new lawn spaces. Seeding now to repair winter-damaged areas will allow the grass to grow in healthy and strong before summer, when the lawn will likely experience the heaviest use. Talk to a turf specialist at a garden store or your local university extension office (You can find your local county extension office here) to help you select the right seed for your area. The specialist will be able to identify a seed that is similar to your existing lawn, or suggest an alternative choice if you’ve experienced recurring problems. After you plant the new seed, water lightly but regularly to make sure the reseeded areas stay damp until the new grass grows in.
Step 4: Control weeds – If your lawn has been overrun with crabgrass or dandelions in the past, you may want to consider applying a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring before the weeds emerge. A healthy, lush lawn will squeeze out weeds, but a damaged lawn may need some help. Talk to a local garden specialist about which herbicide is right for your lawn and the best way to apply it. Herbicides can kill grass seeds, so if you’ve applied seed you’ll want to make sure you use a product that will not affect the new growth.
Step 5: Tune up your lawn mower – Get ready for the first mow by giving your lawn mower an annual service that includes changing the oil, changing the spark plug, swapping out or cleaning the air filter, and sharpening the blade. Most lawns are ready to be mowed when the grass reaches a height of 3 inches, although newly seeded areas or recently overseeded existing lawns should be mowed closer to 2 inches until the new grass is established. Remember to mow with a frequency that allows you to cut less than one-third the height of the grass. An easy-to-follow rule is to let it grow no taller than 3 inches and cut it to no shorter than 2 inches.
I always thought spring lawn care would be overwhelming, but this list makes it clear it’s simple to maintain your lawn and keep it at it’s best! Our biggest project this year will be re-seeding an area where a broken gutter caused a huge amount of water run-off. Now that the snow is gone we can get up on the roof to repair the gutter and begin to reseed our lawn. I’m excited about it because the area is in the front of our house and will look so much nicer once the grass is full and healthy again.
With a summer-ready lawn we’re already planning fun family activities. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
Plan a backyard picnic – spread a blanket over your lush, green lawn and serve sandwiches and tall classes of iced tea. Bring some lawn games like horseshoes or bocce ball for some good, old-fashioned fun!
Camp in your backyard – pitch a tent and plan for stargazing. Roast marshmallows over a fire pit and tell spooky ghost stories by lantern light.
Plan a BBQ – Invite friends and neighbors over for ribs and cornbread. Set up sprinklers for the kids and picnic tables for eating and lounging. Grass Seed USA has some great last minute DIYs for backyard hosting here!
What backyard activities do you look forward to most in the spring and summer?