A bit of a false start to spring, a few cold days and nights, and now – we all hope – spring is finally, really, truly, here to stay. A little sunshine and warm weather makes us all want to get out into the garden.
For many, if not most, of us, our lawns are the first order of business: How did they come through the winter? How are they greening up for spring? What needs doing – and when?
The first order of business is to inspect, clean up and – when the lawn is no longer soggy or soft – rake. But be gentle at first: Grass plants’ roots are still re-establishing themselves after winter dormancy and we don’t want to pull them out of the soil.
One of the best things you can do for your lawn at this time of year is aerate – especially if your lawn has not had this treatment in recent seasons. Aeration is a process in which small plugs of sod and soil are pulled out of the lawn, leaving space for air, water and nutrients to get down to the grass root zone. It’s better to take out plugs than punch holes in – compacting the soil around the holes – with a spiky tool or even “aeration boots.” You can rent aerators at tool-rental outlets, or get a lawn care company to do it. Get aeration done before top dressing or fertilizing – the next steps towards a healthy lawn with a deep and dense root system.
Grass thrives – and sends down stronger, deeper roots – in good, fertile soil. Whether on sandy soil or clay, your lawn will benefit from top dressing with a quarter-inch to half-inch of good quality top soil, made up of loam, peat moss and compost. Top dressing can be combined with over seeding – using a top quality seed or mix – to give the best results. Talk to the folks at Satellite gardens for their expert advice on the right top dressing and seed for your particular conditions.
You’ll want to also ask Satellite’s expert staff about corn gluten and other solutions to emerging weeds.
Fertilizing comes a little later – usually towards the end of May, especially if you applied lawn fertilizer last fall. If your lawn hasn’t been fertilized for quite a long time, a slow-release fertilizer can be applied now: Again – talk to the experts at Satellite to determine the best schedule for your lawn.
As for mowing: If you really feel the need to mow in the next couple of weeks, raise the blades so it will look near but you don’t take more than a quarter-inch or so off the grass. The grass plants need the leaves’ surface area to re-establish themselves after months under snow and ice.
And, of course, keep an eagle eye out for lawn weeds. There’s nothing more satisfying than using a weeding tool to pop out dandelions and other invaders before they get a chance to take over.
I’m Rob Howard. See you at Satellite Gardens, Saturday from 11 to noon.