Here in Atlanta, spring is in the air and Atlantans are eagerly awaiting the annual reappearance of warm-weather plants. If you have a lawn, your grass has probably been dormant over most of the winter. But your grass is about to start greening up. So what can you do in March for a beautiful lawn in the spring and summer? There’s plenty you can do now to encourage a healthy, dense, green lawn all season long. Here are some of our top tips, courtesy of TrustDALE and our expert TrustDALE certified lawn care professionals.
1. Rake Your Lawn and Remove Debris
You may not have spent much time on your lawn over the winter. As the weather warms up, now is the time to get out there and start doing a little yard work. The very first thing you need to do is make sure that your yard is clear. Leaves, pine straw, and scattered junk can all keep your grass from receiving the air and sun that it needs to grow strong and healthy. If you don’t clear your lawn until the grass has started to green up, you may find that the grass is patchy and unhealthy. You can expect some dead spots wherever there was debris on the lawn. So if you want a thick, green lawn in the spring and summer, get out ahead of the spring bloom. Make sure the conditions are right for a healthy lawn before it starts to grow.
2. Start Controlling Weeds Now
Weeds are the menace that every beautiful green lawn must contend with. Unfortunately, a dormant lawn means there is little competition to push out spreading weeds. So now is the time to treat the weeds before they begin to sprout. You could spend your time weeding once the growing season starts, but is that really how you want to spend your time? Instead, treat your lawn with a pre-emergent herbicide now. A pre-emergent herbicide is specially formulated to treat weeds that haven’t sprouted yet and to keep them from germinating. Even if you don’t see any weeds, apply the herbicide now. Pre-emergent herbicide is supposed to be applied before you see the weeds. And if you do it now, you hopefully won’t see any weeds as the growing season progresses, either.
3. Apply Fungicide Before Your Lawn Greens Up
Have you ever noticed ugly brown dead patches in your lawn? Or you may have noticed some unsettling fuzz developing on your newly sprouted grass. These are both signs of fungi attacking your turf. Fungi are not as pervasive as weeds, but they can ruin your yard. Fungi are particularly common in places that have had snowfall followed by warmer weather. When that happens, the bottom layer of snow closest to the ground can start to melt. The layer of water, insulated by the snow cover, is the perfect breeding ground for fungi, and they can spread and destroy your lawn. If you have had that kind of weather, or if you have had fungus in the past, apply a fungicide now, before the spring greenup.
4. Get Ready for the First Mow
As your grass starts to grow, it will soon be time for the first mow of the season. It may seem like a chore, but that first mow will be pretty rewarding. As your lawn starts to sprout, it may look a little unhealthy, like it is coming out of dormancy slowly. But once you do that first mow, you will reveal the green, healthy part of the grass, and your turf will look much better. But don’t mow too soon. It is crucial never to cut off more than one-third of the height of your grass in a single mow. Any more than that will put too much stress on your lawn. If you usually mow to two inches—standard for residential yards—that means waiting until the grass is three inches tall. It can be hard to be patient, but it will pay off after you finally get to do that first mow of the season.
5. Aerate Your Lawn
Once your grass is growing, it’s time to aerate your lawn. The best way to do that is to rent a core or plug aerator from your local home improvement store. (Buying an aerator costs more than you probably want to spend for your home lawn.) Run the aerator over your whole lawn. It may take more than one pass. As the aerator works, it pulls small plugs of dirt, leaving holes and little cylindrical chunks of dirt. Aerating has several benefits. It can loosen compacted soil, which improves water delivery and reducing puddling when it rains or you irrigate. It also provides the roots of your grass direct access to sun, air, water, and nutrients.
Make sure not to aerate too soon. Your grass needs to be strong and healthy. Aerating puts some stress on your lawn. And there’s no point in opening up access to your roots until the root system is at peak growth.
6. Fertilize Your Lawn
Once the lawn is growing, it’s time to fertilize. The best time to fertilize is right after you aerate the lawn. That way, the fertilizer has direct access to the grass roots where it can do the most good. Experts recommend 1-2 pounds of fertilizer per 1000 square feet of turf. To find the right fertilizer for your lawn, talk to your local nursery or garden supply store. They should be able to point you in the right direction. If you know the type of grass you have, that’s even better, and it will make selecting the right fertilizer even easier.
7. Hire a Good Lawn Care Team
Working on your lawn can be rewarding and even relaxing. There is nothing more satisfying than looking out at a healthy green lawn and knowing you were responsible. But many homeowners don’t have the time, the skill, or the inclination. If you’re not ready to put in the time and energy to maintain your lawn—and it can be a lot of time and energy—hiring a lawn care team is your best solution. With a TrustDALE certified lawn care team, your lawn will look its best. You can enjoy a lush green lawn all season long, and your family will thank you!