Spring has sprung and homeowners are wondering how to get their property ready for spring so that they can enjoy their outdoor property as the weather warms.
“After a long Chicago winter, getting a yard ready for Spring can seems like a daunting task,” said Marc Wise, owner and founder of Evanston-based Greenwise Organic Lawn Care. “But it doesn’t have to be: Five simple steps will get most lawns ready to be enjoyed all summer long.”
Here are the top five most important priorities to get residential properties ready for spring:
Avoid heavy yard work in the spring until the soil dries out. Foot traffic and hard raking can compact or disturb soggy soil and damage tender, new grass shoots. Once the soil is good and dry, give your lawn a good spring cleaning to encourage grass growth and discourage pests and diseases. Remove leaves and fallen debris, and gently rake to fluff up and separate the grass shoots.
Spring is the best time to prevent weeds by using a pre-emergent product such as organic corn gluten meal. Pre-emergents work by preventing weed seeds from germinating. Start applying the pre-emergent just as the forsythia bushes finish blooming in spring – that should stop crabgrass and other weeds before they have a chance to grow.
Pre-emergent products prevent grass seed from sprouting too. Don’t apply a pre-emergent and grass seed at the same time. Which is fine, because grass seeds germinate optimally at soil temperatures around 65 degrees. Seed your lawn as soon as the spring days consistently warm to this level, by that time the pre-emergent will have dissipated.
Pre-emergent products, such as organic corn gluten meal, contain fertilizer. However, it is only a small amount, and not considered a full “feeding”. The fertilizer in a pre-emergent will maintain or slightly boost the growth in the grass while the pre-emergent restricts seedling development. Resist the urge to heavily fertilize your lawn in the early spring. Spring feeding encourages rapid tender growth that will struggle to survive the heat of summer, particularly in drought-prone areas. Instead of overfeeding in the early Spring, take a balanced approach throughout the growing season. This approach ensures that the entire grass plant receives the nutrition it needs, when it needs it most.
Sharpen your lawn mower blade every year, prior to the first cutting. You need to have a sharp blade when cutting grass. A dull blade doesn’t cut the grass but tears it instead, which can lead to a diseased lawn. Most homeowner don’t feel comfortable sharpening the blade themselves, but the importance of using a sharp blade to cut your lawn can’t be overstated. Take the lawnmower to a professional to have sharpened. Or switch to a commercial lawn mowing service to ensure your lawn is being cut cleanly.