Having a beautiful green lawn in the summer requires some preparation work in the spring. Fall and winter storms can wreak havoc on a yard, leaving debris behind and bare spots on the lawn. Make cleaning, mowing, weeding, seeding or laying sod in the spring a yearly routine. Revitalize your lawn and give your grass a sturdy root system to withstand the heat of summer.
Clean the yard of debris left from fall and winter storms. Clear away sticks, fallen leaves and any yard waste allowed to accumulate. Rake the grass for a fresh start.
Mowing your lawn to a height of 2 1/2 inches ensures you do not break the "one third mowing rule," states Dave Minner, Extension Turfgrass Specialist at Iowa State University. The one-third rule dictates that you do not cut more than one third of a plant's height.
Mow your lawn twice before looking for broadleaf weeds that have overwintered on your lawn.
Dave Minner, Extension Turfgrass Specialist at Iowa State University reports that you should use a broadleaf herbicide on the lawn until you have reduced the weeds to occupying only 10 percent of the lawn and then apply an herbicide to individual weeds. To kill crabgrass you need to apply a pre-emergence herbicide by the middle of April, since crabgrass will have reseeded itself the prior fall.
The ideal time to fertilize your lawn is in the fall, but if you missed that opportunity fertilizing in the spring is your next option. Test your soil to determine if it is lacking in any nutrients. Lawns may be in need of nitrogen or phosphorus, but it is important not to add nitrogen unless your lawn is deficient. Nitrogen spurs quick growth and may make the lawn greener, but it is at the expense of a strong root system.
If you do need to fertilize, cut the fertilizer amount down to 1/4 of the recommended treatment per area as listed on the bag, according to David Robson, Horticulture Educator from the University of Illinois Extension. Applying fertilizer at this lower rate will protect the integrity of the root system, while still providing the needed nutrients.
The preferred time to seed your lawn is in the fall, when temperatures and moisture conditions are more favorable for emergence. This also allows new seedlings to take root before strong weed growth occurs. If you have bare spots or erosion on your lawn and must seed in the spring, do so by the middle of April. Make sure the seeds are tapped firmly to the soil and water at least twice daily, keeping the seeds moist at all times.
Sod can be put down any time the ground is not frozen. Water frequently and mow when needed. Wait until the sod is well established before actively using that area of the lawn.