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How to Get Your Lawn Ready for Spring

Mowing the lawn in the spring.
Nadya So/Shutterstock.com

While spring cleaning might have you in full-force decluttering mode in your home, there’s plenty to do outside as well. If you want your lawn to look beautiful throughout the hot months of summer, you will need to get your lawn ready for spring first.

We already know getting a head start on lawn care is essential, so we reached out to some experts for advice. Barbara Roueche, Troy-Bilt brand manager, and Erin Schanen, Troy-Bilt gardening partner and creator of The Impatient Gardener blog, helped provide six tips for getting your lawn in the best shape before spring.

Mow a Bit Off the Top When the Grass Grows

As the warm weather continues to rise in March and April, chances are you’ll want to get your mower out and about. Roueche explains that a good time to give your grass a good first mow is when the ground is relatively dry, and the grass begins to grow a bit.

She also expressed the importance of not mowing the lawn too low. “Set the mower to its highest height and trim no more than one-third of the grass’s length,” Roueche said. “If the grass seems too long at first, don’t worry. You can gradually lower the mower height each time you mow.”

She went on to say that letting your grass stay a bit longer earlier in the season will keep weed growth to a minimum and let the blades soak up more sun and moisture without the roots drying out.

While mulching your grass clippings is usually fine throughout summer, Roueche mentioned that you are better off bagging the grass after the first cut instead. These will be great for composting later on.

Professional 63 Gallon Lawn Garden Bags

Comes with gardening gloves to collect your grass clippings.

Check for Thatch

Dethatching the lawn.
Ingo Bartussek/Shutterstock.com

Thatch is a layer of dead organic material that accumulates beneath actively growing grass and on top of the soil. Schanen explained to us that while a small amount of thatch is okay, “if you can’t see the soil and there’s more than a half-inch of loosely woven roots, stems, and shoots under the green grass, then you may need to dethatch.”

Thatch can harm your grass because it often harbors lawn diseases, and thick layers can make it difficult for water to penetrate into the soil. You can remove small sections of thatch with a dethatching rake or use a dethatcher for larger areas of your lawn.

40-Inch Tine Tow Dethatcher

Penetrates and turns up thatch.

Lighten Compacted Soil

Aerating soil for better grass growth.
Paul Maguire/Shutterstock.com

Grass grows much better with light and airy soil, but after months of hard snow compacting the ground, you might need to do a little aerating. Schanen recommends lightening the ground by punching holes with a core aerator to loosen and lighten any compacted soil.

The best time to aerate your lawn is when it is slightly moist and not overly saturated, according to Schanen. She explained that aerating will help reduce compaction and make it easier for water, air, and grass to reach grass roots.

“It’s best to aerate in the morning before the heat of the day sets in,” Schanen said. “Fortunately, aeration is one of those jobs you may only need to do once every few years, depending on the amount of compaction and type of soil you have.”

If you want to save time and money, you can skip the compacted manual aerator and try aerating shoes instead. Slip them on, then walk around your yard to allow sunlight, water, and nutrients to penetrate deep within the soil.

Gray Bunny Lawn Aerator

Lighten and aerate your soil for the nicest lawn growth.

Make Some Compost

holding a pile of compost.
larisa Stefanjuk/Shutterstock.com

Once you give your lawn a first mow, Roueche recommends collecting those clippings and bagging them rather than mulching them. She explains that all grass clippings, twigs, and collected leaves can be put through a chipper-shredder to help break it down into a finely chopped compost mixture.

Why compost, though? According to Roueche, it makes use of clippings that would typically just be trashed and sent to a landfill. Plus, you can use it as a top dressing which can fertilize flower and garden beds.

“Top-dressing is a beneficial technique for spots or sections where the lawn isn’t thriving, isn’t level, has excess thatch, or needs extra structure to hold moisture longer,” said Roueche. “And compost is one of the best materials to use for top-dressing, provided it’s finished compost with the right mix of ingredients.”

Using something like a self-propelled chipper shredder vacuum will allow you to shred clippings and yard waste and use it for compost piles and landscape beds. You will appreciate having fresh compost for your vegetable gardens come summertime.

Troy-Bilt Self-Propelled Chipper Shredder Vacuum

Shred and suck up yard waste in a flash.

Check Your Soil

Throughout spring, if your grass isn’t growing well, you might need to collect a soil sample and send it to the state or a local soil lab. By testing your soil, you can determine what nutrients may be needed to help grow a healthier lawn. It’s good to do this every few years or so.

Schanen says, “Testing your soil before you add anything, such as lime to decrease acidity, will prevent you from adding incorrect or unnecessary amendments that can harm your lawn or waste money.

Transfer your soil to a clean, sealable plastic baggie, then find a University Soil Testing Lab close to you. Once you find a testing lab for your soil, search the site for a lawn and garden submission form. Instructions vary upon testing lab, so read up on submission and mailing instructions.

Overseed if Needed

someone adding grass seed to a patchy lawn.
Miriam Doerr Martin Frommherz/shutterstock.com

Even after dethatching and aerating your lawn, you might still have problems with a spotty yard. To help fill in any patchy bare spots on your lawn, grab some quality grass seed so you can fill in the empty spaces. Schanen explains that grass seed can help thicken your lawn and keep weeds at bay.

Apply a thin layer of topsoil to the lawn before spreading compatible grass seed,” she explains. “After overseeding, fertilize with grass seed fertilizer — not weed and feed — then water daily until the new grass is fully grown.”

To find compatible grass seeds, you must select a species that matches your climate, yard sun exposure, and the moisture your yard usually gets.

Pennington One Step Complete Sun & Shade

Fill in those bare spots once and for all!

Preparing your lawn before spring will ensure it beams bright green all summer. Because there is so much to do in the yard, round up your family and get them involved too.  

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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