Despite the snow, MGG’s Ryan Anderson looks ahead by answering your spring lawn care questions.
Why is spring lawn care important?
Proper spring lawn preparation will set down turfgrass roots that store nutrients and hormones so grass can survive drought conditions in the summer. Your lawn will risk dying if grass does not have deep enough roots.
Should I consider the following practices this spring?
Most sustainably managed lawns do not need dethatching, since the soil microbiology breaks down organic matter. You should only consider dethatching if the thatch layer exceeds one-half inch.
Find a screwdriver that’s about 15 centimeters long and push it through the lawn at multiple spots. You do not need to aerate your lawn if the screwdriver penetrates 10 centimeters or deeper with little resistance. Rent a core aerator from your local hardware store if the screwdriver meets resistance.
Turfgrass rapidly grows its shoots in the wet spring. However, you want to set down deep roots for the turfgrass, so it can survive the hot and dry summers. A slow-release organic application in May or early June will help with root growth.
A dense, deeply rooted turfgrass system will best prevent weeds from germinating and accessing nutrients, sunlight and water. Focus on proper aeration, fertilization, overseeding, mowing and watering before considering weed control.
Grass seed offers the cheapest weed control for your lawn. Mix grass seed with some compost or topsoil to fill in the bare spots.
Turfgrass does not require more than one inch of water per week. This should be one thorough watering event in the week, not spread out. Refrain from irrigating during rainy weeks.
How high should I mow this spring?
Mow high! Mowing more than a third of the grass shoot per session stresses the turfgrass plant and encourages shoot growth as opposed to root growth. Consider raising mowing height all the way to four inches to reduce mowing frequency and shade out the soil layer.
What should homeowners avoid this spring growing season?
Do not bag grass clippings. Grass clippings can provide up to 25% of grass nitrogen needs over the year.
Any more tips this spring?
Find more natural lawn care tips at bit.ly/MGGlawn. If you want to reduce your management, consider native plants or eco-lawns or find tips on our No Mow Milwaukee page.