‘Tis the season for beautiful lawns! So, let’s get your lawn ready with these 7 steps for spring lawn care from Frankie Flowers. These steps will toughen up your lawn to help it fight against weeds and pests.
Frankie Flowers’ 7 Steps for Spring Lawn Care
1. Keep off the grass in early spring
When the snow melts, your first impulse may be to get working on your lawn. Though, starting too soon may do more harm than good. So, if your lawn feels spongy underfoot, that means it’s still too wet. Therefore, wait until the ground feels firm.
2. Rake Your Lawn to get Rid of Thatch and Debris
Firstly, remove fallen stems, branches and leaves by raking your lawn gently and gathering up the debris. If there’s more than 1 centimetre (1/2 inch) of brown, matted blades of grass located where the soil meets the roots of your lawn, you can remove it with a fan rake.
3. Aerate to Reduce Compaction and Increase Airflow
Secondly, buy or rent a manual or power aerator. Budget tip: share the cost with your neighbours! Then, remove little plugs of compacted soil from your lawn, so that air, water and nutrients can flow to the root zone. This will improve your lawn’s look and overall health. Remember, aeration is essential in high-traffic areas. For example, common paths and where kids play. Additionally, it’s important to aerate areas with clay-based soil.
4. Top-Dress Your Lawn with Good Soil
Thirdly, top-dress your lawn. This step will help make your lawn thick, lush, and naturally weed resistant. Top-dressing means spreading an even layer of soil across your lawn, filling holes and leveling out uneven spots. Though, don’t entirely cover the blades of your grass!
5. OVER-SEED with Grass Seed to Thicken It Up
Next, spread a good-quality grass seed across your lawn. Rake lightly and water. Note, there’s no need to cover with more soil. Also, make sure the grass seed you buy is properly suited to the amount of light in your yard. The package will specify sun or shade. Lawns prefer cooler temperatures. So, it’s best to water them during the early morning hours. Note, grass seed needs soil that’s warmer than 15°C, or it won’t germinate. A great way to check the soil temperature is to stick a kitchen meat thermometer in the ground.
6. Feed Your Lawn with Fertilizer
Further, spread a layer of fertilizer to boost the health of your lawn, and minimize weed growth by applying corn gluten (it prevents weed seeds from germinating). Apply lawn fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen (the first number on the bag) early in the season. Choose a “slow release” formula so your lawn gets a consistent feeding of nutrients over time, while limiting the release of fertilizer into the water table and preventing fertilizer burns on your lawn. For example, Scotts® Turf Builder® PRO (32-0-4). Note, crabgrass control products prevent germination. So, if you’ve used it on your lawn, you must wait up to eight weeks before reseeding.
7. Cut Your Lawn with Care
Finally, mow your lawn to a height of 6 to 8 centimetres (2 1/2 or 3 inches). This ensures the blades of grass are just tall enough to shade out and prevent weeds from germinating. Additionally, it keeps the roots of your lawn cool. Plan on mowing once a week, alternating the direction each time. So, if you run the mower up and down perpendicular to your house one weekend, you should run it back and forth parallel with your house next time. Use a mulching blade on your mower. Therefore, nutrients from grass cuttings are returned to the lawn. Make sure blades are sharp; dull blades won’t cut cleanly and will harm your grass.
Frank Ferragine AKA “Frankie Flowers” is an award winning gardening expert and “weather specialist” on City’s morning show Breakfast Television in Toronto.
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