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5 easy spring steps for summer lawn success

How to improve your lawn

The Groundhog missed out on seeing his shadow. Long term forecasts are showing a chance at some really nice weather as soon as Mid-March. Before we know it, we will be out taking care of lawn chores again. We are often tempted to run out and buy the shiniest packages of whatever the big box store is selling, or maybe it’s what the latest and greatest the Saturday morning radio show is selling. The truth is, If you prepared well last fall, your lawn will need just a few easy chores this spring to have that lawn that will impress your neighbors by the time mid April gets here. Here is what you should be working on with an eye on getting them done by April 1st.

Mow the Lawn Short

No, really, we always recommend mowing the lawn on the tallest setting your mower has for many many reasons. Check out the top 10 mowing mistakes you can make. There are two exceptions; prior to seeding if you are verticutting, and one time in March, before you begin mowing for the year, cut the lawn down a bit but no shorter than two inches.

The way this works is it removes the winter brown, the dormant ends of your grass blades, and lets the new growth that is already starting stretch its legs and begin to reach for the sun! Be careful not to do it too early, even check the 10-day weather forecast, so you can avoid the damage that very low temperatures (15 degrees or lower) can do on new lush grass.

Also, go ahead and collect the clippings but only if you like doing extra work! The little bit of leftover winter brown straw will help to shade the soil, making sure you don’t get a big influx of weeds while the lawn is still short. Keeping the clippings on the lawn will also return much needed nutrients to the soil.

If you are cutting off so much that you are creating the mess, raise the mower up a notch or two, you are probably just cutting too low and you certainly don’t want to scalp the lawn down below the crown of the grass plants. Cutting your lawn short (about two inches), one time, early in the spring, is a great way to be the envy of your neighbors.

Pick Up Leaves on the Lawn and in Your Flower Beds

We know, you thought you had picked up your last leaves in early December. Unfortunately, trees like pin oaks and ornamental pear trees like to stubbornly hang on to their leaves through most of the winter, waiting until January or even February to finally drop the last bunch. These leaves tend to accumulate in the nooks and crannies. Doing one last leaf cleanup early this spring will help your lawn be the best looking lawn in the neighborhood.

Check under the air conditioner, in window wells, under decks and other tight, hard-to-reach places for that final spring leaf cleanup. If you can get the last bit of your lawn and landscape uncovered and let the warm spring sun do its work, you too can be the envy of your entire neighborhood!

Prune Your Summer Flowering Perennials

Rose bushes, ornamental grasses, and liriope all need to be cut down before they begin growing again in the spring. If you neglect this chore for too long, your plants can easily get out of hand! You should cut Knockout and other shrub roses down to 18-21 inches every year for the best results. A pro tip for cutting down your ornamental grasses is, wrap a rope, belt, or bungee cord around your grasses at about three feet off the ground, then cut the grass down at six inches above the soil level.

You will have a simple, already gathered, bundle of dormant ornamental grass to clean up, saving you hours of cleanup time. Having your perennials cleaned up going into April will give them the best chance to take advantage of beautiful spring days and warming temperatures, leaving your landscape looking as good or better than anyone in your neighborhood.

Get That Mulch Down

Put mulch down for your flower beds

After your leaves are cleaned up in the flower beds and your plants are pruned, getting down some mulch to keep the weeds away and getting the nutrients in place, is the next step. Read these additional tips on mulching. If you top dressed with mulch last year, an additional one inch should do the trick.

If you are covering a new flower bed, or it’s been a few years since you mulched, you should add at least two inches, up to four inches down. When you mulch, don’t forget to put weed preventer in with it when you put it down. Don’t forget to fertilize your trees and shrubs too! Be very careful to follow all label directions precisely. Don’t forget, getting mulch and pre-emergent down before April 1st will leave you with an easy spring, and have your beds looking great by May 1st.

Don’t Forget the Crabgrass Preventer and Fertilizer

Applying a very slow-release fertilizer, combined with crabgrass preventer is a key to having a great looking lawn all summer long. Crabgrass and other grassy summer annual weeds are hard to get rid of once they get established so it is very important to treat preventatively with pre-emergence herbicide, a couple months before they come up.

Look for products with prodiamine or dithiopyr as they are among the best a homeowner can get. One properly applied application (read and follow label directions very carefully) will usually do the trick. As for the fertilizer, look for a product containing coated urea or methylene urea so that you don’t get a huge flush of growth as the nitrogen releases all at once. If you want a great lawn this spring, you need to have your fertilizer and crabgrass on the ground by April 15th.

Spring To Do Recap

March Chores

  • Mow the lawn short
  • Pick up leaves in hard-to-reach places
  • Prune summer flowering shrubs and ornamental grasses
  • Apply pre-emergent weed control and mulch
  • Fertilize trees and shrubs

April Chores (by Apr. 15th)

  • Apply slow-release fertilizer
  • Apply crabgrass preventer

Now that you have a good list of chores for the month, it’s time to get to work! Don’t have time to get it all done? We can help! Send an email to dave.m@customlawn.com or call us at (913) 782-8315 and we will get you a quote that day and have the work done on time.

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