Now that spring is here, the snow is gone and the days are getting longer. All lawns need a little work right away in the spring to grow thick, healthy and look great. This is the time to put some work on your lawn so it can recover from the winter. This is not to say you have to spend all your weekends on your lawn. Instead plan at least one maybe two weekends doing simple maintenance.
If you have not raked your lawn it is never to late. This removes the dead thatch keeping the lawn open. It also removes dried leaves, weeds and other debris that can change the Ph level of your soil and harm your lawn.
There has been snow mold on nearly every yard this year. Be sure to rake the dead material off and reseed this areas as soon as you can. These are round, brown, matted down areas that will take a very long time to recover. The grass is dead and will have to fill in from neighboring plants. Reseeding is the quickest remedy. This will get grass in the areas fast and prevent weeds.
If you did your fall maintenance correctly the lawn was trimmed short. Keep it mowed short in the spring, but never more than half the plants' leaf. As long as it rains you can keep your lawn manicured like the professions. If we run into a dry spring take the time to drag the hoses to water since we did not get much snow over the winter. This will set the grass up for less maintenance during the summer.
One note on mowing: we recommend standard mowing. Mulching mowers create too much wet thatch that suffocates the lawn. Bagging clippings takes the nitrogen off your lawn creating the need for more fertilizer. Standard mowing leaves the clippings on top of your lawn where they dry out and go back into the soil to be used by your lawn again. The only time you should bag clippings are after you have let the grass grow too long and you need to cut a lot off the plant.
We tell everyone they should aerate the yard. Rent a machine now because spring is the best time of the year. Aerating opens the canopy your turf grass creates, thereby loosening the soil and allowing the lawn to literally take a breath. This is important to avoid diseases from hurting your lawn. We recommend the spring over fall since there are less weed seeds (pollen) floating in the air and your lawn will have all year to recover.
Usually, irrigation is not needed in the early spring. If your lawn is dry we recommend watering for longer durations, but infrequently. If you have an irrigation system set it to run on each zone for a long while, but only every other day. This will put down more water less often. The water you apply will soak deeper into the ground encouraging the roots to chase the water. Plants with deeper roots can better survive a drought or disease. Watch your weather though, don't irrigate then get a few rains that flood your yard.
Apply a generous amount of fertilizer right away in the spring. The UofM extension Services offer soil testing to determine what elements your lawn needs to grow health plants. Take advantage of this service and buy fertilizer according to their recommendations. Otherwise, try to keep a balanced blend with ever numbers nitrogen, phosphorus and pot ash. The nitrogen is the basic building block for your lawn. The phosphorus, contrary to local politicians, will encourage more root growth and does not 'move' or run-off in the soil.
Be careful not to spill fertilizer on your grass and always clean up spills from your driveway. Too much fertilizer can sterilize your soil for over a year and kill anything you try to grow there.
You have areas that did not weather well over the winter, as was the case for many since we had a lack of snow. Odds are that by now these areas will not come back. If they are large enough they may take quite a while to fill in from the surrounding turfgrass. In these cases you may need to resod to avoid foreign grasses from filling in the dead spots. Sod from any of Central Turf Farms' can be found from our distributors.