Ah spring, the time of year the flowers start blooming, the weather gets warmer and we are woken up with sunshine and birds chirping. The kids are outside playing, but the adults now have to think about that spring cleanup and preparing their lawn for a healthy season.
Getting our lawns ready can be a dreaded chore, or maybe you love doing it so much you are counting down the days until you can start. Whichever the case, you want to be prepared and make sure it is done properly so you don’t have future problems. Here are eight tips to prepare your lawn for spring.
Winter is over and spring is arriving, the first thing you want to do in terms of lawn care is rake. We have a lovely thing called snow mould, a disease which grass blades stick together and can cause your new grass issues when coming through.
Raking at the first sign of spring can help get rid of all the matted and dead grass to give your lawn a better chance of having a healthy season. You also want to get rid of all the dead leaves that stuck around. Raking is a crucial step in lawn care and even though it may not be the most fun, or give you back pain, if you want a healthy lawn, this isn’t a step you will want to miss.
To help avoid any back pain be sure to use proper body mechanics and take breaks for stretching. A tip for proper body mechanics while raking would be to rake side to side and be sure to keep your back straight. You want to bend at the knees and keep one foot in front of the other. Move your legs and pivot the body by shifting your weight. You can find back, and hip stretches on YouTube or your favourite app to do before, during and after your raking session and remember, take breaks.
Lawn Care Guide - Achieving and Maintaining the Perfect Lawn
Lawn Care Guide - Achieving and Maintaining the Perfect Lawn
Everyone should check for compacted soil to see if you may need to aerate, especially if you have kids or pets that can cause a heavy foot traffic throughout the winter. Harsh winters with several heavy snow falls can also compact your soil. Soil checking shows you the areas of your yard that may need aeration.
It is best to do this early spring so that you can aerate during the prime months between March and May. However, it is recommended to aerate in the fall but if you have heavy compacted soil spring aeration will be beneficial.
Cleaning up debris like branches and left-over leaves from the long hibernation called winter, is best left for when the temperatures are consistently rising above freezing levels. You want to leave the debris out there for a little bit, so be sure to hold off until temperatures are rising.
I know you might not be happy hearing this, all that organic “waste” can be an eyesore, but it is actually doing some good. The old debris is providing nutrients to your lawn such as nitrogen phosphorus and potassium. If you would like to stay away from the chemical-based products you will find in store, leaving that debris may be the thing for you. Don’t worry, in due time you can rake it all away and have your lawn pretty again.
This is the part of lawn care we all want to get to - seeding the lawn. Once this step is taken, we are that much closer to that beautiful, green yard we all so badly strive for. Before your soil temperature starts reaching the 18-degree Celsius mark you will want to start spreading the seed on your lawn.
Spread the seed on any bare and/or thin area. If you really want to stay away from crabgrass and weeds, laying down sod could be something to consider. When spreading grass seed, you want to make sure you do the job properly or you are essentially throwing away your money; simply tossing your seed down can lead to poor germination.
Follow the steps below for an easy step by step guide.
- Prepare the ground for raking or tilling to a three-inch depth.
- Your ground will need nutrients like compost, topsoil, band fertilizer. Once those are laid, work them into the ground.
- Spread the seed. There will be instructions on the back of your grass seed bag.
- Protect your grass seed by raking again to cover your seeds with topsoil. You can even lay down a weed-free straw to keep your seeds from blowing away.
- Water your seed. You want to make sure your soil stays moist while keeping in mind not to over saturate. Once your new grass reaches approx. one inch in height you can cut back your watering to once a day. You will want to continue with this routine until you cut your lawn once or twice.
If you want to overseed your existing lawn, you will prepare your grass by cutting it down and raking out any existing turf. If you have compacted soil, aerate and then you will amend the soil with compost and starter fertilizer. Spread your seed and protect the same way you would if you were seeding a new lawn. If you want to repair patches you follow the same steps as above but when preparing the lawn, you are just raking away the dead grass and loosening up your topsoil. If you are following these steps, in a short time your lawn will start looking Instagram and Pinterest worthy.
Who doesn’t love a flower bed? Living in Ontario, the dreaded wait for summer flowers is rough, but who says you have to wait to add some colour to your garden. Before you start adding in new flowers check your soil. If it crumbles, that’s a green light, if it is still clumping, wait a couple more weeks and test again.
The seasonal items are available for purchase before spring even arrives, so buying materials shouldn’t be difficult. Make sure you have your gardening gloves, trowel, maybe some knee pads, your soil and mulch.
Once you have the essentials, hit up your favourite nursery and start buying all those spring flowers that can handle cool weather and even frost. Pansies and Snapdragons can survive in the cooler, wet temperatures and come in a variety of different colours and they stay healthy all summer long, with the proper care of course. Bare Root trees and shrubs are great for cool weather planting as well. Bare Root shrubs like Forsythia Intermedia, Cornus Alba, and Japanese Maple are a few that can be planted in cooler weather. If you have any perennials that are exposed give them a spray to wash away any salt to give them a better chance at staying healthy.
When you are mulching your flower beds, or any areas you may have trees and/or shrubs be sure not to over mulch or mulch too early. In fact, to be on the safe side, don’t mulch your spring flowers just yet, you will want to wait until the weather gets warmer. Mulch cools down the soil, and if your soil is already cooler due to the time of year and location, adding mulch that makes your soil cooler can do more damage than good. So, when is a good time to lay your mulch and how much should one use? You will want to wait until mid to late spring to lay down any of your mulch. This way your soil is warming up and it can reduce the chance of exposing your plants to a condition that could hurt them. When laying it be sure to use a thin 1-2-inch layer, but if the mulch is coarse, use a 3-4-inch layer. The benefits of mulch are to reduce weed growth, maintain your soil moisture and moderate the temperature of the soil. It can also protect any bare soil and your plants for any harsh temperatures that may arise.
Deciduous trees, Evergreens, flowering shrubs and flowering vines, are all plants that will need a good spring prune. This can be a daunting task for many but with the right tools and proper information you will be a pro in no time. Make sure to buy yourself a good set of pruning shears and have your gardening gloves handy.
You will want to prune as soon Spring hits before your trees leaf out to promote fast recovery. Cut back the weaker growth to allow for healthier and sturdy form. Other areas of focus include branches that are rubbing together or any of the branches that could hit a pedestrian while walking by. If you have canopies that have been in the ground for over a year but less than five you will want to thin those out as well.
Like the Deciduous Tree, you want to start pruning as early as possible to remove any branches or the branch tips that were winter buried. Be sure to clean up all of the fallen needles, you can add this into your mulch. A tip for pruning Evergreens: Don’t over prune as you will have a hole that has a long recovery time.
Those hardy vines need to have a vigorous prune. We want to promote good airflow through the vine so you will need to thin out any overgrown areas.
Once the spring flowering is over you can start to prune your flowering shrubs. Remove any low growing branches someone could trip on.
If you are looking to start a new perennial garden or just add more to your current one, this is the time you may want to start looking. It may not be the right time to plant but buying early has its perks, offering greater selection and maybe even a few deals.
Easy perennials include:
- Hosta’s, especially if you have a shaded/partially shaded area.
- The Daylily is another easy perennial and can add some colour while in bloom.
- Peonies are a beautiful touch to any flowering garden, but the bloom doesn’t last long, so be sure to add in some flowers that match well with them. Flowers that form along a spike, pair well with Peonies and can include Clustered Bellflower, False Indigo and Foxglove to name a few. Other types of plants that will pair well with a Peony would be a pretty Iris, Alliums and Columbines.
Other perennial favourites are the Tigerlily, the Butterfly Bush, Hydrangeas and Shasta Daisies and these are all easy for beginners.
A step that shouldn’t be forgotten is the equipment check. Bring out your weed wacker and lawn mower and make sure they are in working order. Maybe you need gas for your mower, the last thing you want to do is run out for gas when you are about to do your first cut of the season.
Preparing your lawn for spring can be intimidating if you are a beginner. It can be dreadful if you are experienced. Planning and preparing for your spring lawn care needs can take some of the stress away.
You may need to give your mower an oil change, grab some new spark plugs and you will want to sharpen its blades to get a perfect cut.
Here’s a quick checklist to help you prepare your lawn this spring!
- Bring out your rake/buy your rake – Rake any dead and matted grass from our harsh winter conditions.
- Do a walk around and check for compacted soil and if necessary, aerate.
- Clean up debris when the weather calls for it.
- Buy your grass seed and prepare the lawn for seeding
- Buy spring flowers that like the cooler weather and can handle potential frost.
- Prune with the proper tools like a pair of pruning shears
- Buy any new perennials you may want early.
- Check your equipment and do any necessary repairs/tune ups.