I know summer is just around the corner because it’s spring and the tulips are blooming, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. It’s been raining for weeks, and I long for some sunshine. Our yard is soggy, and it’s keeping us from enjoying time outdoors. I can’t wait for longer days, more sunshine, and time to spend hanging out enjoying our backyard from morning until night to finally arrive. Our backyard is the place where we entertain friends, play lawn games (Frisbee is our favorite right now), and where I have romantic star gazing dates with my husband. It’s true, I love my lawn, and I appreciate Grass Seed USA asking me to share my tips for spring lawn care maintenance plus the surprising benefits of natural turf.
I Love My Lawn – How & Why We Keep it in Shape
We have the nicest lawn on the block and every summer we have to giggle when people walk by and comment on how nice it looks, but how they wouldn’t want our water bill. But, the jokes on them. Prepping our lawn and keeping it cared for takes less water than letting it go dry, turn brown, and become a fire hazard.
In fact, we had a deck fire just a few days ago that extended to the area under the deck. Because we take care of our turf and its environs, it didn’t become a grass fire as well. It was worth all the time and energy we’ve put into our yard to give us that green buffer to keep it from causing more damage.
The Benefits of Natural Turf
What my clueless neighbors don’t realize is that grass is more than just beautiful, it’s also functional. For me, it gives me a green and natural place that calms me and lets me get away from my daily stress. It also encourages wildlife to visit, and I love the cacophony of bird songs coming from the trees and the sound of squirrels using our fence as their superhighway to skitter from yard to yard far out of the reach of the neighborhood dogs. My favorite spot is under our grove of towering pine trees where their branches filter the sunlight while I swing in my hammock – it revitalizes and lifts my spirits.
There are also physical benefits to maintaining your lawn. It provides erosion prevention, something imperative here in the Pacific Northwest where we’ve had record rainfalls which have resulted in devastating flooding. One of the factors causing this erosion is grass that is allowed to wither. It dry compacts the dirt, causing the roots to shrivel, which keeps them too close to the surface. Without a deep and healthy root system, a lawn won’t be able to absorb the water and the runoff which can cause damage to your outdoor hardscapes or seep into your home, or worse, your neighbor’s. It’s the most cost-effective way of prevention soil erosion.
Maintaining your lawn isn’t hard. The most important step is choosing the right grass for your location. Factors like your general climate as well as specifics like the amount of sun the area gets and what other plants are in your landscape and how they affect the turf need to be considered. These factors need to be reanalyzed annually because they change. For example, our backyard had full sun with very little shade when we moved into our house 29-years ago. Now, the fir trees have grown, and our once sunny deck and lawn are shaded with the exception of a few hours around noon. But worse, the debris from the Fir trees make it nearly impossible to keep grass growing beneath them. We’ve had to change our seed blend to meet our new needs so that we can grow the best lawn possible with the least amount of work and money. Planting the appropriate seed gives us better results and lets us tailor our lawn to our family’s needs so our grass can regenerate quickly and respond to the stresses our environment throws at it.
Spring Lawn Care: What to Do NOW For a Beautiful Lawn
If you wait to do lawn maintenance until it’s time for that first mowing of the season, it’s likely too late. Long before the lawnmower makes its first appearance, my husband has already done the spring maintenance. Here in the Pacific Northwest, April through May is considered pre-season in a typical weather year and the perfect time to prep your lawn for the upcoming season.
Five Easy Steps For Spring Lawn Care
Step 1: Rake – If you haven’t kept your yard free of leaves, pinecones, and other winter debris, it’s time to get rid of them. Give your entire lawn a good raking to remove the debris and to uncover any bare, worn, mossy areas that need attention. It’s also the first step when overseeding as it increases the soil contact with the seeds and allows new, young grass to grow more easily.
Step 2: Aerate – While our lawn isn’t compacted by piles of snow or heavy winter traffic, it’s still prone to compaction. Renting a core aerator lets you quickly pull plugs of soil which increases the movement of water, nutrients, and oxygen in the ground. It can be time-consuming, and the aerator can be too heavy for some, so hiring a lawn professional may be a better choice. Make sure you verify with your professional who’s responsible for removing the plugs as many leave it up to the homeowner. If you’ve got plenty of time and not a lot of money, there are several manual aerators you can purchase and use yourself. They’re slower and take a lot of physical power, but it’s how my husband does it every year.
Step 3: Seed – Spring is a great time to reseed or overseed your lawn or to add a new turf. The milder weather of spring means the seed is less likely to dry out and it has time to grow and become healthy and ready to survive summer. Visit your local home & garden store or local University Extension Office for help in choosing the right seed. In the Seattle area visit the Department of Washington Horticultural Library web page.
Step 4: Control weeds – Lawns can become overrun by weeds and if you’ve had crabgrass or dandelions take over in the past, consider a preemptory strike now. By applying a pre-emergent herbicide in the areas that have been safe harbors for these weeds in the past, you can prevent them from growing. Be careful if you’re seeding or overseeding because herbicides can kill those precious sprouts so chat with your home garden specialist to make sure you’re using the right herbicide for your needs.
Step 5: Tune up your lawn mower – Before you start it up for the first time, your lawnmower needs its annual tune-up. You’ll need to change the oil, spark plug, and air filter and sharpen the blade for the best performance. If you’re not able to do it yourself, most lawn mower repair services will do it for a small fee and the cost of new parts. It’s time to mow your grass when it gets to about 3″ tall and cut it no shorter than 2″ tall. The exception is if you’ve seeded recently. That area shouldn’t be mowed until the new grass establishes itself. Mow as often as you need to (2-3 times a week here in the summer) so that you don’t cut more than 1/3 of the height and you leave 2″.
It sounds like a lot of work on paper, but it’s just a day or two out in the yard enjoying the beauty of the spring knowing that you’ll be rewarded with lush green grass you and your family will enjoy all summer!
Find out more about natural turf and grass seeds at We Seed America‘s Facebook and Twitter pages and follow the hashtag #ILoveMyLawn. Also, stop by the We Seed America website where you can find more benefits to natural turf plus fun facts and tips so you can have a lawn you enjoy.