Preparing our lawns for early spring green up should really start in late fall to early winter. A winterizer application should have been made anytime after about the second week in October. This allows the roots to take in the nutrients and store them for the following spring. As the snow melts and the temperatures begin to rise, the soil temperatures also begin to warm up. This allows the nutrients to start moving through the grass plant. The following are some things you can do in the spring to help promote the growth of your grass, allowing it to turn greener sooner without putting on any fertilizer.
Aeration is a great service to have done on lawns each year. This helps break down the thatch layer in lawns and allows moisture and nutrients to be able to get to the root system easier. Aeration gives the opportunity for worms to get air without making those annoying clumps in our lawn. It will also allow the sun to penetrate the soil to warm it up quicker, allowing the grass plant to start coming out of dormancy quicker.
Mowing your lawn is an important step in greening up your lawn quicker in early spring. When we mow we send a message to the grass plant that it is time to grow. This first time mowing you want to drop your mower so you can not only cut some grass, but pick up any debris, like leaves, off your lawn. Don’t lower the mower so much that you “scalp” your lawn, but just low enough to “tickle” the plant. It is best to mow first, then aerate; then you can mow again and it will break down the aeration plugs. After the first mowing, raise your mower up to prepare for the summertime.
Sometimes raking your lawn helps stimulate the growth of your grass. After the snow is gone, the lawn has a matted-down look. By lowering the mower, sometimes it is good enough to pick up some of the “dead” looking grass. But in most cases it is too matted down that the mower doesn’t touch this grass, so you can take a hand rake and lightly rake those areas. We do not recommend power raking for this because most people lower the power rake so low it ends up damaging your turf. And with that, it can take up to a few months for the lawn to recover. The best is to lightly rake those areas, and we would suggest to do this first.
Normally we do not have to water at this time of year. The heavens are usually open enough that we receive enough moisture at least through the month of April. We should only be watering when the plants look stressed. By putting on too much water we are not just wasting the water resources we are desperate for, but it can cause a few diseases that are very hard to control such as Necrotic Ring Spot.
The snow is gone and now is the time to start thinking about the most important step in keeping your lawn free of weeds: the pre-emergent application. Pre-emergent is a product that prevents weeds from starting, mainly crabgrass and spurge. But why so early? Along the Wasatch Front crabgrass germinates from mid-April to late May, so you must treat the lawn before this. March and April are the only times to do this, with the pre-emergent lasting the whole growing season. However, once a seed has started, it is too late to apply it. Spring also provides us with cool temperatures and ample water by rain and dew, which allows the pre-emergent to work faster.
Now that you have done your part in helping your lawn green up faster, there are a few more things to remember. The plants are on a timing schedule and needs warmth to grow and come out of dormancy. Sometimes the year is so cold that no matter what you do your lawn doesn’t green up any faster. Be patient and let Mother Nature help in this part. Don’t get too anxious by applying your fertilizers too early; this is just wasteful and will not promote green grass any faster than normal. You can start applying a good fertilizer with a pre-emergent control any time after the second week in March. Make sure this application is done before the April 20.