The steps you take during the spring each year play a critical role in whether you’ll have a beautiful lawn that can stand up to the hot summer ahead. In this article, we’ll go over my top spring lawn care tips and projects.
I’ll share all the things you need to do this spring in order to get ready to enjoy a lush green lawn all year.
Let’s get started!
Spring Lawn Care Project Checklist
Every spring I recommend you tackle the following projects to set your lawn up for success:
- Mower Maintenance
- Perform a Soil Test
- Clean up Winter Debris
- Tackle Major Lawn Projects if Needed (overseed, aerate, dethatch)
- Tackle Small Lawn Repairs as Needed (repair thin and patchy areas, edge garden beds)
- Use a Pre-Emergent lawn herbicide to Block Annual Weeds
- Fertilize and Amend with Micronutrients as Recommended by Soil Test
In this article I’ll provide an overview of each of these items and projects.
And remember that where you live and the type of grass you have will play a role in what projects you should take on this spring (I’ll explain).
Steps for Early Spring
In the early spring, remember to tune up your lawn mower. Part of this involves changing the air filter and oil, as well as the spark plug. You can do all of this yourself and it’ll cost you about $20 and 30 minutes of your time.
You should also take some time to get rid of all the dirt and grass clippings on the top and undercarriage of your mower. Keep yourself safe by detaching the spark plug wire before you do any work in the area of the cutting blade.
When cleaning underneath your lawnmower:
- Lift up one side of the machine and brush away all the dried grass.
- If there is any hard dried grass, use a putty knife or hand trowel to get it loose.
- After you’ve done this, you’ll be able to sharpen the blade of the mower (if needed) using a kit like this one which costs less than $15 on Amazon. If it has gauges or nicks, you will probably want to replace it, which is easy to do and you can find the right blade with a quick search on Amazon or elsewhere with your mower’s model in the query.
- Once this is done, make sure to fill up your fuel tank with fresh gas.
Before you mow your lawn, make sure to pick up any branches, twigs or other debris on your lawn. You’ll be surprised at how much of this can accumulate over the winter. I put my kids to work gathering pine cones every spring.
If you have a compost pile, break up your organic matter into small pieces and add the twigs and branches to it. Use your rake to get rid of any dead grass on the lawn. This can also be put on the compost heap.
The only exception to this is if there are weeds in the dead grass. You can compost those, but I usually throw them in the trash because I don’t want to reintroduce their seeds later on.
Spring Lawn Care for Different Grass Types
Where you live, and the type of grass you have in your lawn will dictate how you need to care for your yard in the spring.
Warm-season grasses (such as Bermuda, Centipede, Zoysia, and St. Augustine), do well in hot weather and then become dormant in the cold months. You’ll find that your warm-season grass will start its growth once the late spring frost is over.
The middle of the summer is when you’ll see the full beauty of your lawn with this grass type.
Late spring is a great time to overseed this type of grass and do your spring lawn projects. It allows your new grass to establish itself over the summer during the best season for its growth.
Plant warm-season grasses when the temperature outside is in the 70s and your soil temperature is at least in the 60s before. It’s crucial that there is no longer any chance of a frost.
Wait until the later parts of the spring before you plant warm-season grass seed.
Your cool-season grasses will have difficulty in the hot summer months, especially if you haven’t made proper preparations (such as the ones I’m sharing in this article) in the spring.
Spring lawn care will make sure your cool-season grass has what it needs to stand up to the stress of the summer.
Spring vs Fall Overseeding for Cool Season Grasses
Personally, I recommend that you overseed cool-season grasses in the fall and not the spring, but if you time it right, Spring overseeding can work (but your new grass may require more water through the summer).
Plant cool-season grasses when air temperatures are regularly in the 60s and the risk of frost has passsed, typically in the early spring. All grass seed needs soil of a certain temperature to germinate, and these temperatures will mean that the seedlings you put in are able to get their roots properly established before the summer.
With cool-season grasses, it’s important to avoid getting carried away with too much fertilizer in the spring months. Your grass is going to thrive during this season anyway, so your money is better spent babying it through the summer when all the lawns in your neighborhood start getting crispy.
Test Your Soil in Spring, No Matter What
No matter what type of grass you have or where you live, it’s important to test your soil early in the spring.
If you find that your soil is too acidic or alkaline for your type of grass, there are things you can do to adjust the pH, like spreading lime in your yard. And you may find that you have plenty of nitrogen available already, and would be better off spending money on Iron or other micro-nutrients to improve the performance of your grass.
You can get your soil tested by sending a sample to an extension office or you can simply buy your own soil test kit. I use this one every spring. It gives me an excellent analysis of my soil, telling me what my soil needs, what it doesn’t, and saves me money by keeping me from applying the wrong items to my yard.
If you know where you stand in the spring, you can come up with a plan that will work for your lawn and help it thrive all season.
Best Overall Lawn Soil Test Kit
The Soil Test Kit I Use & Recommend
There are many options for testing your lawn’s soil, but I prefer a lab-based soil test that provides a detailed analysis of your soil’s nutrients and what’s needed for your lawn to thrive.
I use this one from MySoil every year.
And if you’re interested in taking the guesswork out of what to do next after you get your soil test results, consider Sunday’s subscription lawn-care plan. They test your soil for you and use local weather data to send you exactly what your lawn needs, when it needs it. It’s pretty fool-proof – you can Click Here for Your Instant Lawn Analysis and take 12% off your order with promo code LAWNCHICK2023.
Small Lawn Care & Lawn Repair Projects for Spring
These are some of the smaller projects that you’ll want to tackle this spring if your lawn is in good shape already.
Deal With Bare Spots in Your Lawn
Most lawns will sustain some winter damage, and in the spring you will need to identify problem areas and fix any bare spots that you have in your lawn.
Make sure to apply water to areas that you re-seed every day for a minimum of a week. It’s best if you continue watering until the grass reaches a minimum of two inches in height.
Use a Weed Prevention Product
If you have a northern lawn and you’ve had issues with crabgrass or other weeds, use a pre-emergent weed prevention product in the early part of the spring.
If you live in the south and you already have weeds, use a fertilizer that helps prevent and kill weeds.
There are ones available on the market that kill clover and dollarweed while feeding your lawn.
Apply a fertilizer or lawn food to your lawn in the early spring, around the time when you first mow your grass.
Such a product will help nourish grass roots and promote better growth, which can help your lawn crowd out weeds.
I like to use an organic, slow-release fertilizer vs. a synthetic one. Not only is it safer for kids and pets, but lawns grow quickly in the spring as it is. If you over-fertilize you’ll just need to mow more often and your lawn probably won’t look significantly better.
Adjust Your Mower
It’s best to adjust your mower deck so that you cut the grass as high as you can for the type of grass that you have. Letting your grass grow taller leads to deeper roots, and these will find moisture more effectively, keeping your lawn looking green during the dog days of summer.
A taller, thicker grass canopy will also help to prevent weeds from getting the light they need to grow.
The height at which you set your lawn mower blade depends on what kind of grass you have. In general, a blade height between 3 and 4 inches is ideal. This is the highest setting of most mower blades.
Major Lawn Care & Lawn Repair Projects for Spring
Sometimes your lawn is in bad shape and requires some more aggressive action to set it up for success.
These are some projects you can tackle in the spring (and how to tackle them).
Thatch forms on your grass when lawn clippings and dead grass build up and are flattened. Thatch is damaging to your lawn because it can interfere with germination of new seed that you put down.
It also makes your lawn more susceptible to infestation by pests and fungus growth and can prevent water and oxygen from reaching the roots of your lawn.
To dethatch your lawn, you can use a dethatching rake or just a regular rake that has especially stiff tines.
The Dethatcher I Use & Recommend
For lawns up to a half acre there’s one clear choice when it comes to dethatching tools. I recommend The Greenworks 27022 10AMP Electric Dethatcher.
It works really well and will pay for itself after a few uses when compared to renting a power rake.
I usually aerate my lawn in the fall, but spring is a good time to properly aerate your lawn’s soil as well.
Aeration is an important lawn care practice because it lets more water and air get to the roots of your grass. It needs to be done because over time, soil gets compacted and this creates difficult conditions for grass growth.
There are hand tools you can use, but I recommend renting a core aerator for the day. If you have a neighbor who is into lawn care, split the cost and share it.
Overseeding in the Spring
Overseeding can be a great way to strengthen your lawn and get it ready for the heat of the summer.
That’s because the process helps you achieve a healthier, thicker lawn, and this will help to prevent weeds from taking root and growing.
Prior to overseeding, make sure to cut your grass to the lowest mower setting. After that, bag up all the clippings. Once you’ve mowed the lawn, loosen up the soil’s top layer by using your rake. This will also help to get rid of any debris or dead grass. Doing so will make it easier for your grass seed to take root and for the roots to become properly established.
This will help to make the seed properly settle and will protect it from birds and keep it moist.
Just be certain that you don’t put down such a large amount that you could destroy the grass that’s already on your lawn, though. Don’t exceed a quarter of an inch.
The Work You do in Spring will Be Enjoyed All Season
Appropriate spring lawn care practices can make your lawn ready to deal with the stress of hot summer weather, as well as other challenges throughout the year.
It’s worth taking the time and investing some money and resources to set your property up for the growing season. Do so, and you can be a proud homeowner all year.