By Timothy Johnson
A lush green lawn in the spring doesn't happen by magic. It takes some work, dedication, and caring about your yard. Preparing your lawn to get through the winter is what helps give you that lovely green grass in the spring.
Whether you know it or not, late fall or early winter is when you fertilize cool-season grasses in your yard. Cool-season grasses include ryegrass, bluegrass, and fescue varieties, and when fed with the correct product, give these grasses an advantage. Before your lawn goes into the dormant state, it needs to gear up for survival through the winter months. Many nutrients are lost during the heat of the summer and fall growing season. So, if you fertilize before winter hits, then the fertilizer will stay in the soil and nourish the grass roots throughout the long winter.
During the final mow before winter, evaluate your yard. Remove branches, logs, additional debris, and rake up leaves. Remove kid's toys and lawn furniture as well. For natural mulch, run the lawn mower a couple of times over the leaves which are lying on the ground. Not only is it great for the lawn but it saves you time. Then, as winter moves on throughout the months, bundle up and trudge outside to do another once-over for any items which have been missed or need to be moved.
Something else to keep in mind, so you have a fresh green lawn in the spring is foot traffic. A repetitious path from the curb to your front door can damage your grass. When your grass is in its shortcut and brown-colored condition, it is vulnerable to foot traffic and heavy use. So, do your best to encourage pets and people to use different paths or rotate the ones already established, so the grass doesn't become matted down.
During snow season, make sure to keep sidewalks clear of snow and ice. This way family and visitors won’t be tempted to walk on the lawn instead of using the sidewalk, not to mention safer. If the sidewalk is in contact with turf, use a salt-free alternative for melting ice on sidewalks and driveways. Also, never use your lawn as a parking area. When you do this, it kills the grass under the tires. This will make room for the hard-to-get-rid-of unwelcome weeds and crabgrass because your grass is dead and now there’s space for weeds to grow.
If you live in a state which receives snow with its winters, that can be a problem also. Soil can become compacted on your lawn from piled-up snow and heavy snowfalls. When compaction occurs, it causes problems in healthy soil by impeding moisture, nutrients, and air from reaching the grasses roots. In turn, this will cause health microbes and earthworm not to thrive. So, core aeration in the late fall or early spring will significantly benefit your lawn.
Weed control is another issue to consider when spring comes. When you use pre-emergent weed control, it will prevent weeds from growing and spreading. The time to apply pre-emergent herbicide is just before the forsythia bushes stop blooming. If you do it then, it will prevent weeds and crabgrass from beginning to grow. When you use weed prevention control in the spring, both warm and cool-season grass types will benefit. You'll need to make a second application in the summer since pre-emergent herbicides work for about three months.
There is one thing to keep in mind though about herbicides. If you are thinking about using herbicides in the spring, you will need to decide between lawn seeding or weed control. You can’t do both because the herbicide keeps grass from coming up as well as weeds. You’ll miss the spring planting season because the herbicide is active for up to 12 weeks.
Finally, when your grass begins to grow again, it will need at least 1" of water a week. Too, as soon as you think your lawn needs to be mowed, you can mow it. Just remember to only cut about one-third of the blade's length for growth.
By following these tips, you can have a greener lawn this spring.
Timothy Johnson is a green living and landscaping expert. He can often be found hiking with his two dogs or in the lavish garden he curates in his backyard.