From the Extension Agent – Tips to Prepare Your Yard for Spring

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Published Saturday, April 7, 2018
THUMBNAIL - Jeramy McNeely
by Jeramy McNeely

If you're like me, you're starting to see some green grass grow in your yard and you're getting itchy to pull the trigger on your sprinkler system.  But while the temperatures are still dropping below freezing, there are some things that you can do now to get your yard ready before that magical day you crank on the water and prepare for your water bill to jump.

1. Do Some Cleaning

    The first step to prepping your yard is to clean up all the dead leaves, twigs and signs that your neighbor's animals have visited.  It is also good to give it a good raking to remove matted areas encouraging better air flow and help prevent disease and insect infestation.  It also helps new grass blades be able to emerge.

2. Apply Fertilizer, Pre-Emergent and Weed Killer

    Applying these things early in the spring is important. Timing can be critical and should be applied before your soil temperatures reach 55-60 degrees.  That is when your weeds will begin to seed and the pre-emergent is no longer effective.  I've noticed that the south side of my house has weeds emerging where the sun has been warming up the shallower soil already causing a problem.  Applying early will help you in your crabgrass battles that become even more difficult to control once it has germinated. Fertilizing will help jumpstart your lawn from winter slumber and provide it with the nutrient build up it needs to withstand heat and stress during the summer months.

3.  Core Aeration

    Core aeration is a great thing to do in the spring.  It allows water and air to reach the root zone faster, resulting in new growth and root development.  It is suggested that you do this before the soil temperature reaches 55-60 degrees as well for after this point the voids created will only be an invitation for aggressive weeds to seed.

4.  Trim the Trees

     Now that I think about it, this would actually be the first thing you would want to do if your trees need it.  Obviously then you would only have one clean up vs. two.  If you're like me, that's not how you do things at your house and usually create more work for yourself.  I luckily have access to a bucket truck to get dead branches up high.  If you don't, please consider hiring a tree trimmer for safety purposes.

5.  Mow Early, Mow Often

    Once your grass begins growing, it is important to mow every five days or so during the first six weeks of spring.  If you let your grass grow too high and then cut it, it can stunt the roots so they can't reproduce properly.  A good rule of thumb is to only take a third of the length of the blade at a time to keep from taking off too much at once.  This will help to ensure a thicker, fuller lawn.  

     As I'm writing this, I just remembered that my mower didn't want to run toward the end of last summer.  This is also a great time to get it maintained and in good working condition before mowing season commences.  It's also a good idea to freshen up your gas jugs with fresh gas as last year's gas can become stale causing "mowing anxiety".  Also check your trimmers and trim line supply before you need it.  Again, not something I think about until I'm in the middle of trying to be productive and have to shut down to get more, causing more "mowing anxiety".  

Good luck and happy mowing!