5 Tips for Preparing your Lawn for Spring or Establishing a New Lawn

We are all chomping at the bit for spring to actually arrive. It is April, although the snow and wind chills make it feel more like February or March. But spring will arrive- eventually and the time to prepare your lawn will arrive.

First of all, a disclaimer. I tend to be very serious about my lawn. I love spring and summer, green grass, and flowers. I love having lush, green, weed-free lawn  in which to walk barefoot. So on to the recipe for a great lawn:

  1. For existing lawns remove any debris that has accumulated and rake up matted grass to remove the snow mold. Raking encourages better air flow and allows new grass blades to emerge.
  2. In early spring, when the soil temperatures reach 50-60 degrees, apply a pre-emergent crab grass control. We have skipped this step if we don’t have crabgrass but if you have had it in the past, DO NOT SKIP! Do not wait until the crabgrass gets out of control as it is very difficult to eradicate.
  3.  Apply a spring fertilizer to give your grass a healthy start. Spring fertilization allows the grass  to build strength making it more tolerant to summers’ heat and drought. Knowing your soil type helps to determine what ratio of fertilizer to apply. You may also apply organic fertilizers at this time.
  4. Spring is a great time to aerate the lawn. Aeration allows water and air to reach the roots faster encouraging new growth and root development. Aeration is especially important for heavier clay soils that tend to compact. Again, timing and temperature is important. Aerate early before the soil temperatures reach 55- 60 degrees. Waiting until later may encourage weed growth.
  5. If bare or thin spots are visible in the lawn, use the early spring to overseed. Allow the seed to germinate before applying the pre- emergent crab grass control.

If you have a new home and are just starting a new lawn, determine if you need a cool or warm weather and also if it needs to be sun or shade tolerant. In Wisconsin we obviously need cool weather grass.

  1. Make sure your yard has been finished graded and all stones and rocks removed.
  2. Depending on the size of your yard, seed can either be spread by hand or using a spreader. If using a spreader, walk first one direction and then then the other making a checkerboard pattern. I’ve started several lawns and prefer seeding extra heavy to achieve a really thick lawn.
  3.  Apply a starter fertilizer to give the seedlings a good healthy start.
  4. A peat moss or straw mulch may be applied over the seed or you may prefer to just lightly rake the seed into the soil.
  5. Water, Water , Water. Depending on the wind, soil conditions, rainfall, and temperatures the new seed should be watered several times a day, keeping it moist but not to the point of drenching it. Continue to water until the lawn has good growth then back off slowly to once or twice a week.
  6. Don’t be in a hurry to mow. Wait until  the new grass reaches a height of 3-4 inches and only mowing about an inch. After germination apply the first application of fertilizer.

Follow these simple directions and the grass won’t be greener on the other side.


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