Spring has sprung here in Middle Georgia! Your lawn should be waking up from dormancy if it hasn't greened up already. Springtime is very important in the turf management process. Many of us need something like coffee to help us wake up in the morning. You also have a better day when you get started out on the right foot. This is true for your lawn as well. It needs some help waking up in the spring; the equivalent of morning for turf. Having a good start in the spring helps your grass have a better season throughout the year. Today we're going to look at how you can give your lawn a strong start this spring.
There are some key tips for giving your lawn a strong start in the springtime. Bryce Kirkpatrick, our turf expert here at Real Turf Solutions, discusses his top tips for springtime lawn care. We also put together an infographic highlighting the key points of spring care.
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1. Clean Up
Ideally, you want to have leaves dealt with before your lawn begins greening up. If you still have fall leaves on the ground now, around the April/May timeframe, those need to be cleaned up right away. You should clean up leaves before trying to apply any treatment to your lawn as well. Treating your lawn with leaves on it will result in much of the product not reaching the turf.
As your lawn wakes up from dormancy, it needs plenty of sunlight and access to water. Leaves left over from fall form a blanket over the turf, making it harder for water, light, and other essentials to reach your grass. Even a light layer of leaves can hinder the growth of your lawn.
Leaves can also potentially lead to fungal issues because they trap moisture in the soil. Your lawn needs water, but it also needs to be able to dry through the natural process of evaporation. When the soil remains damp, it starts to become an attractive habitat for fungus issues which are very harmful to the turf.
Be sure to also keep any other trash and debris off your lawn too. This is important all year long because the grass underneath will eventually die if covered up too long. It is especially important during the spring and fall times though. These are the transitional periods when the turf is going into or coming out of dormancy. Any debris on the grass will act as a thermal insulator, causing the temperature below to remain higher or lower than the rest of the yard. The temperature difference can be great enough to interfere with the natural process of transitioning for the patch of turf underneath.
The soil gets compacted over the course of the year. It's important to help loosen it up and reduce that compaction each spring. That's what aeration is for. When the soil is compacted, water and nutrients aren't able to easily reach down into the root zone of the turf.
Core aeration loosens compacted soil and allows water and nutrients to penetrate deeper into the ground. This helps the turf establish a stronger, more robust root system. Stronger roots and access to more nutrients helps produce a thicker, healthier lawn.
Thicker turf helps reduce the amount of weeds in your lawn too. If the grass is thick enough it can prevent some weeds from gaining a foothold in your lawn. The dense cover provided by the turf chokes them out before they can germinate and establish themselves.
Irrigation is absolutely critical if you want lush, thick, healthy turf in your lawn. It's not as simple as just turning the irrigation system or sprinkler on and letting it run whenever. Proper irrigation is the key.
The way you water your lawn can make or break your turf, especially in the hot summer months. Watering correctly will help the turf establish a deeper, stronger root system, making it more resistant to drought and encouraging growth. To achieve this, you want to water deep and infrequent. Here's a video on how to water your lawn like the pros.
You really want to have your pre-emergent weed control treatments done well before the lawn starts greening up. Once they start popping, weeds are much harder to keep in check. Even with pre-emergent herbicide down, a few weeds will likely still appear. Check the lawn regularly and spot treat any weeds that do pop up using a turf-safe post-emergent herbicide.
Now is the time to fertilize your lawn too. You should have your yard's soil tested before fertilizing. Compare the result of the soil samples to the recommended soil conditions for your specific variety of turf grass. This will guide you in your choice of fertilizer based on what needs to be improved in your soil. This is far more effective than just using a generic off-the-shelf fertilizer and hoping for the best.
You should be careful not to over-fertilize your lawn. Some homeowners fertilize way too often trying achieve a deeper green color in their turf. Not all grasses are suppose to be a deep, pure green. Some varieties of turf grass, such as centipede, are naturally an off-green color, leaning more towards light green or green with a hint of yellow tint. Over-applying fertilizer can produce an unnatural deeper green temporarily, but this is not healthy for the grass in the long run.
Obviously, as your grass starts growing, you'll need to keep it mowed. Before you cut your lawn, check what the recommended mowing height for your particular type of grass is. It's important not to cut your grass too low because it will stress the turf, making it more vulnerable to diseases and other issues. Download our free mowing pocket guide for a list of recommended mowing heights, plus more professional mowing quick tips!
Mowing your lawn also has the added benefit of helping to control weeds. If you don't get weed control treatments for your lawn, mowing can help slow the spread of weeds. Regular mowing will keep the weeds cut down before they get the chance to drop new seeds. It won't get rid of currently established weeds, but it will reduce the rate of growth for the weed population.
We hope these tips help you get your lawn off to a strong start this year! If you need any help with your landscape or have some questions, feel free to contact us. We are always happy to help!
By: William Adams
In 09/2018 William started at Real Turf working in the field having never done manual labor before. He wasn't expected to last the first day. Terry recognized ways William could benefit the company more, and after 5 months of working full-time on lawn service and enhancement crews, William was given a position doing digital marketing, IT, & quality control work.