Strategies to Use to Spring Your Lawn Forward in Spring 2024

Strategies to Use to Spring Your Lawn Forward in Spring 2024

The snow is melting, the birds are chirping, and spring is in the air. You know what that means—it’s time to get your lawn ready for the warmer months ahead!

Once the snow finally melts, looking out at a dull, brown lawn can make you feel like spring may never arrive. But have hope!

Follow these key spring lawn care tips, and you’ll be rewarded with a luscious lawn all season long!

Feed Your Lawn Back to Life

As the dreary gray days of winter drag on, it’s easy to forget about your poor, neglected lawn out there beneath the snow. Come spring, that grass is crying out for some nourishment after its long hibernation.

Now is the time to set your lawn up for success by giving it some fertilizer love. This will provide a big boost of essential nutrients to help your lawn spring back to life and shift into active growth mode.

You’ve got options when it comes to which type of fertilizer to use. Here’s the low-down so you can make the right choice for your needs:

Organic Fertilizers

Want to keep things natural? Organic fertilizers are derived from plant or animal materials like compost, bone meal, blood meal or fish emulsion. Many homeowners concerned about the environmental impact of lawn chemicals are shifting to organics.

The biggest benefit of natural organic fertilizers is that they break down slowly over time, releasing a steady supply of nutrients into the soil rather than all at once. This promotes consistent, healthy growth. Plus, there is very little risk of excess nitrates leaching through soil and contaminating groundwater.

Organic fertilizers also feed the billions of microorganisms that live in healthy soil. These beneficial bacteria and fungi help your grass access and utilize nutrients.

Look for organic fertilizer blends formulated specifically for greening up lawns in spring. Options like Espoma Organic Spring Lawn Food or Dr. Earth Lawn Fertilizer pack a nutritious punch.

Synthetic Fertilizers

On the other hand, you may prefer the instant gratification of synthetic fertilizers made from refined chemicals. Popular quick-release nitrogen blends like Scotts Turf Builder deliver faster greening.

Synthetic fertilizers have nutrients in immediately available forms that allow grass plants to uptake them right away. This translates to visible results within days. A spring application gives your lawn that vibrant hue you’ve been craving through the gray winter.

The downside is the potential for fertilizer to leach through soil before plant roots absorb it. This contaminates groundwater with nitrates and phosphates. Careful application is key. Never over-apply synthetic fertilizer in an attempt to get even quicker greening.

Hybrid Fertilizers

You can also find products that combine both natural and synthetic sources to provide a best-of-both-worlds approach. Look for a mixture of quick-release nitrogen paired with slow-release organics. This way you get quick greening along with sustained nutrition.

How to Apply

Granular or liquid—which is better? Granular fertilizers (solid pellets) are great for large, wide open lawns. The broadcast spreading motion ensures an even application across the entire lawn.

For smaller suburban lots, liquid fertilizers are convenient and allow more control over precise application. Attach liquid concentrates to your hose end sprayer or pump sprayer nozzle so you can target just the areas that need it as you water your lawn.

Don’t Bag It!

Here’s an organic fertilizing trick to try—stop bagging clippings when you mow your lawn. The grass blades break down quickly, returning their nutrients right back to the soil in a natural way.

Mulching mowers chop clippings extra fine for rapid decomposition. Just make sure not to remove more than one-third of the total blade height when cutting. Leaving clippings in place equals free fertilizer all season long!

However you choose to feed your lawn—with bagged products, liquid concentrates or natural mulching—now is the prime time to give your grass the boost it badly needs. Proper early spring fertilization ensures your lawn leaps back to lushness.

Hunt Crabgrass

As soon as those tiny green crabgrass shoots start poking through your lawn, you know you’re in for months of battle trying to eradicate the takeover. Win the weed war this year with one simple task—timing your pre-emergent crabgrass killer just right.

Here’s the frustrating reality about crabgrass—once you spot it, it’s too late. Crabgrass preventer must be applied before seeds have germinated. You have a very small window of opportunity in early spring to get ahead of crabgrass before it germinates.

Miss that window even by a few days, and you’ll spend all summer hopelessly pulling up crabgrass intruders by hand. So how can you be sure to time it perfectly?

Watch the soil thermometer – Crabgrass seeds start germinating when soil temperature reaches 55°F. As soon as your thermometer has registered 55°F or above for 3-4 consistent days, it’s go time.

Don’t jump the gun – If you apply too early, the preventer will break down before it can stop crabgrass. Wait until consistent 55°.

Don’t wait too long – Once your soil thermometer hits 65°, crabgrass germination will happen fast. Apply preventer BEFORE this point.

Mark your calendar – Make note of exactly when you applied preventer last year. Use that date as your target this year, adjusted slightly for weather.

With crabgrass preventer applied at just the right moment, you’ll stop those pesky invaders before they ever get rooted. No more plucking crabgrass for months on end! Spend your summer actually enjoying your lawn instead.

Mower Prep Tips

As temperatures start to warm up, you know it won’t be long before your lawn needs its first haircut of the season. Is your trusty mower up for the job? A little TLC now ensures your mower is tuned up and ready to buzz through spring and summer mowing.

Tune-Up Time

For gas-powered mowers, it’s wise to do an annual tune-up. Replace the air filter, spark plug, and oil following your owner’s manual guidelines. Your mower will purr like new!

Electric and battery-powered mowers don’t need much in the way of tune-up. However, you should still follow manufacturer recommendations on any maintenance or part replacement.

Clear Out Clippings

Gas and electric models alike need some debris removal love. After months of sitting idle, your mower deck has likely accumulated quite a thatch of compacted grass clippings, leaves and other gunk.

Use a putty knife or heavy-duty scraper to clear away this buildup, getting way down into the nooks and crannies of the deck. Built-up debris prevents proper airflow and cutting action.

Sharpen Up

A sharp mower blade makes clean cuts, preventing tears and fraying of grass blades. But after hitting rocks, sticks and other hazards all last mowing season, your blade is likely a bit dull.

Sharpen your blade 2-3 times during the active growing season. Or just replace the blade altogether if it’s really gnarly. A finely honed blade will slice through grass like butter. Your lawn will look neater and healthier.

Store Properly

Did you leave your electric or battery mower sitting in the hot garage or a freezing shed all winter? Storage mishaps like this can shorten battery life. Bring temperature-sensitive models indoors if possible.

With some basic TLC, your mower will be back in tip-top shape and ready to take on your lawn again this year. Don’t get caught off guard with a busted mower when the grass is high!

Time to Dethatch Your Lawn

Here’s a task that doesn’t get enough attention—dethatching your lawn. Never even heard of it? Let’s get you up to speed on what thatch is and why removing it improves your lawn’s health.

What is Thatch?

Thatch is a dense layer of dead and decaying grass stems, roots and debris that accumulates between the soil surface and green grass blades. A thin layer of thatch is harmless. But too much builds up like a spongy mat, causing problems.

Why Remove Thatch?

  • Blocks water, air and nutrients from reaching soil and roots
  • Breeds disease, pests like chinch bugs
  • Causes uneven growth and thinning
  • Contributes to drought stress
  • Invites weeds to invade

When to Dethatch

Timing is key here. Early spring before grass resumes growth is too early—you’ll damage the crowns. Late spring to early fall is ideal, so grass can recover actively.

DIY Dethatching

  • Use a stiff rake to vigorously disturb the lawn surface and rake out dead debris
  • Apply an enzymatic dethatching product which digests organic matter
  • Bag clippings to remove some debris each time you mow

For severe cases, rent or buy a gas-powered dethatching machine. This mechanically removes thick layers of thatch accumulation.

Aerate afterwards to allow moisture and nutrients back into soil once thatch layer is removed. Your grass will breathe easier!

Dethatching improves density, color, vigor and overall lawn health. Don’t overlook this crucial task in your seasonal maintenance routine.

Define Your Yard with Crisp Edges

Here’s an instant way to take your lawn from shabby to sharp—define the edges! Crisp, clean edges around your lawn make landscaping features pop and look well-tended.

Edging by Hand

For smaller spaces, a basic shovel or half-moon edger quickly carves a trench between lawn and planting beds. Angle the sharp edge of your tool inward as you slice.

Or splurge on a stand-up weed popper tool. Step on the foot platform to push the circular blade into soil for easy edging.

Power Edgers

For larger yards, powered options save tons of time and effort. Gasoline-powered edgers quickly devour long stretches. Push models have a blade that extends out to the side as you go.

Or opt for a battery-powered stick edger for lightweight convenience—no tangled extension cords! The motor sits atop a pole with a blade sticking straight down to skim the lawn edge.

Where to Edge

Edging visually defines where the lawn ends and other features begin:

  • Along driveways, patios and walkways
  • Around planting beds and flower gardens
  • Along foundations of houses and outbuildings
  • Around trees, shrubs and landscaping rocks

For best results, edge after mowing so grass is short. Maintain your edges once a month for crisp definition all season long. Dull, fuzzy edges make yards look unkempt. Don’t let your neat lines go astray!

Special Problem? Eject Lawn Intruders!

After a long winter, you may find your lawn littered with unwelcome debris—rocks, gravel, sticks, leaves and more. Here’s how to kick these intruders off your grass gently.

Lawn Sweepers

A lawn sweeper uses a rotating paddle to sweep up surface debris without disturbing the grass blades. Way better than painstaking handpicking!

Push models work for small areas. Tow-behind sweepers attach to your mower or tractor to cover large spaces quickly.

Where to Sweep

Target areas where debris tends to accumulate:

  • Along driveways and walkways
  • Under trees and encroaching shrubs
  • Spots where rainwater flows and deposits debris
  • Around landscape rocks and hardscaping

Sweep early in spring before debris gets buried and hidden by new growth. Reclaim your lawn from winter’s leftovers!