Three Steps This Spring For A Beautiful Summer Lawn
Winter is releasing its chilling grip across the U.S., and your thoughts are likely turning to springtime flowers and a beautiful, lush, green lawn.
You want a nice green, weed-free lawn, right? §
There are three things you need to be doing this spring to help that lawn start growing.
1. Apply Crabgrass Preventer
If you lawn was infested with crabgrass last summer and you don’t want a repeat occurrence, then your first task is to apply crabgrass preventer.
The timing of this step is important. Crabgrass preventer discourages the crabgrass from germinating, but only works for about a 10 week timeframe. If you do it too early, the effectiveness will wear out before germination. Too late, and the seeds will germinate before the crabgrass preventer can take effect.
The exact time varies each year depending on the weather. However, the general rule of thumb is to apply crabgrass preventer when the forsythia bushes in your area are almost done blooming.
You will need a fertilizer spreader and enough crabgrass preventer to cover your lawn. Crabgrass preventer and fertilizer is usually sold in bags that cover 5,000 square feet. You can also purchase larger bags that cover closer to 15,000 square feet.
I personally use Scotts HALTS Crabgrass Preventer, but there are other similar products available, including Scotts Turf Builder with HALTS Crabgrass Preventer. Check your local lawn and garden store or home improvement store for availability. When it’s time to apply, follow the instructions on the bag to adjust your fertilizer spreader to the specified drop rate.
2. Initial Grass Cut
Keep a close watch on your lawn over the next few weeks. When you see the short green blades of grass start to appear, you can take the next step, the first cut of the season.
For this first cut, drop your mower height about 1/2 inch shorter than you normally would use when the lawn is fully green and give it a cutting at that height. I included the suggested cutting heights for the most popular lawn grass types in the table below.
The goal is to get rid of that taller old brown growth so that the sun can warm the soil and reach the young grass blades. You can bag the grass or mulch it, your choice. Bagging will get the dead brown clippings off your lawn and is better for this cutting, but in many cases can simply use a mulching mower and blade.
When you finish, don’t forget to raise your mower back up to the usual cutting height for your lawn.
3. Feed the lawn
If you didn’t apply a combination fertilizer/crabgrass preventer in step 1, then about a week after the first cutting (step 2), apply fertilizer over the entire lawn. This will feed it and help it grow. I am still fighting weeds, so I like to use Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed. You can also use regular Scotts Turf Builder.
Of course, the lawn also needs water. Usually, spring means a good amount of rain for most areas of the United States and this isn’t a problem. If the spring weather is drier than normal, then some form of irrigation will be needed.
Watch and Wait
Growing a beautiful green lawn is something that you can absolutely do yourself and is quite rewarding. (Especially when your neighbors ask what service you use for your lawn care, and you can say that you do it yourself.)
For an average sized suburban lawn these steps shouldn’t take more than a few hours in total and will give your lawn a great chance of being the best it can be. The rest of the summer might be spent applying more fertilizer, keeping the grass watered, and fighting off weeds and bugs, the sooner you get a nice thick carpet of green grass, the better your lawn will be in the long run and the less work you will have during the summer.
§ If you live in an area where you don’t have a grass lawn (like parts of Arizona, for example), then even if your answer is yes, this article probably can’t help you. Sorry!