Spring is a transitional time for your lawn and garden. Early in the season, when melted snow has left behind puddles of mud and the grass is as yellow as horse’s hay, you might find yourself wishing for a blanket of snow to cover it all up. That’s why lawn care is so important. Some well-deserved TLC is all your landscape needs to bounce back to it’s fresh, green self.
Here at Mother Nature, we know how important it is to take a break from the annuals and perennials to focus on the foundation of our landscape – our lawns. From lawn care and fertilizing to repairing neglected lawns and even planting new ones – we’re here to help you with all of your lawn care needs!
Spring Lawn Care
After being tucked under the snow all winter long, the first thing your grass needs is some sun and air! Rake up any leaves or debris that have been left from the previous year, since they smother your lawn and block out the sun. Overseed any thin or bare patches of grass to ensure it grows thick and lush by the time summer arrives.
Once your lawn reaches two inches in height, it’s safe to start mowing. Be careful not to cut it too short, never removing more than one-third of the height at a time. Cutting too short is a huge shock to the grass, and leaves the soil more exposed to the sun, causing it to dry out quicker. Although your grass will be growing much quicker, the same rule applies in the summer. Just like getting a haircut, it’s better to cut your lawn often, trimming off small amounts, than to wait for long periods and have to cut back a lot at once.
Spring is also a critical time for lawn fertilizing. As we all know, summer is a pretty dry season here on the Sunshine Coast and fertilizing in these conditions can burn your lawn. In early spring, applying an all-purpose lawn fertilizer will give grass the jumpstart it needs to start growing again.
Importance of Lawn Fertilizing
Just like other plants, grass draws energy and nutrients from the soil to remain healthy and grow strong roots. Most soils aren’t rich enough on their own to provide enough nutrients to keep your lawn well-fed all season long. The best way to sustain a healthy, active lawn is to supplement these nutrients with an appropriate fertilizer.
Fertilizers supply your lawn with both primary and secondary nutrients, all of which are necessary for healthy grass. Nitrogen, a primary nutrient, is essential for plant growth and leaf development, leaving your lawn with that brilliant green colour. Phosphorus and potassium are also primary nutrients, both of which encourage root development and make your lawn less susceptible to stress like disease and drought.
A balanced fertilizer will give your lawn equal amounts of these important, primary nutrients – a great way to cover all of your bases. But if you want to choose a fertilizer more tailored to your lawn, or if your lawn is struggling and you don’t know why, you can also use a soil testing kit to figure out what nutrient(s) your lawn is deficient in. Soil testing kits are super easy to use, allowing you to choose the perfect fertilizer that’ll turn your yellow lawn into a vivid, green landscape.
Repairing a Neglected Lawn
If the previous owner of your new home failed to pay much attention to the lawn, or if you’re guilty of neglect yourself, your lawn might need a little more than maintenance. Repairing neglected lawns might seem daunting, but it’s not impossible.
Start simple by following all the steps of regular lawn care, like raking, dethatching, overseeding, and watering. If your soil is really compacted, removing thatch might not be enough for water and nutrients to be able to make their way down to the roots. You can aerate your lawn by poking deep holes in the soil or, in more extreme cases, using a machine for core aeration.
Nutrients are important for maintaining a healthy lawn, but perhaps even more valuable to lawns on the brink of death! One way to enrich soils is to spread compost or across your garden. Organic matter is full of beneficial microbes that will ensure your lawn is more self-sufficient in the long run. But for a neglected lawn, you should also consider fertilizing.
A healthy dose of nutrients and other beneficial components is a life-saver for thin and damaged lawns that seem like they have no will left to live. For these kinds of garden emergencies, we recommend Scott’s Lawn Response 9-1-1. This 3-in-1 solution is composed of organic and slow-release fertilizer, soil enhancers, and high-performance grass seed. Once your lawn starts to make a comeback, continue with regular lawn care to maintain your new, healthy landscape!
Planting New Lawns
Lawn maintenance and repair might be pretty straightforward, but it won’t mean much to you if you don’t have any grass to groom yet! Something we get asked about a lot is how to start a new lawn. Whether the old sod is just too damaged to repair or you’ve just built a brand new home – here are some simple steps to planting a new lawn!
Remove existing turf and fix grade problems. You can kill old grass with heavy mulches, herbicides, or by using a sod cutter. You want to have a nice, even surface to enjoy when it’s done, so use a landscaping rake to fix any bumps or inconsistencies in the ground. For bigger problems, you’ll need to hire a landscape contractor with some heavier equipment.
Amend the soil with organic matter. While you have all this bare soil in front of you, it’s the perfect time to add beneficial amendments! Why not seize the opportunity to ensure you’re grass always grows vigorously? Add lots of organic matter to build a rich, fertile foundation for the long run.
Test the soil. You can also use a soil testing kit to see which nutrients your property might be lacking, so you can add the appropriate amendments. With soil tests, you can also check the pH of your landscape. Most plants prefer neutral or slightly acidic soils, so aim for 6.0-7.0 pH. At this time, you can amend the soil with lime to raise the pH, or with sulphur to lower it.
Plant your new lawn. Finally, you’re ready for planting! Rake the land until it’s smooth and firm, and water the area thoroughly before planting your new sod or seed. Keep foot traffic away from your new grass, allowing it to establish roots without added stress. Consistent lawn care is important for your new lawn to succeed. Improper watering is the number one cause of new lawn failure, so make sure you don’t over- or under-water!
How to Prevent and Remove Moss
Experienced gardeners know that even with diligent lawn care, unwanted weeds and vegetation can still intrude your landscape, especially with the right climate.Here on the Sunshine Coast, we can definitely have our run of hot dry weather, but at times it seems like the rain will never end. These wet grey days create the perfect environment to grow moss and grow it quickly. Left unchecked it can take over a lawn in a few short seasons.
Moss thrives in the wet weather, flourishing in flooded areas and waterlogged gardens. Although some may like the naturalized look it gives your landscape, the presence of moss isn’t a good sign for the rest of your garden. It’s likely that your lawn and other plants are suffering due to poor drainage, low nutrient levels, or insufficient sun.
Moss spreads easily in these less-than-ideal conditions, quickly taking over your garden. The best way to prevent or treat this problem is simple – proper lawn care! Generally, what’s good for your lawn and plants isn’t favourable for moss growth. Here are a few things to focus on if you’ve got a moss problem:
- Improve drainage conditions of your landscape by aerating your lawn to remove soil plugs. Amend the soil with organic matter if necessary, since enriched soil naturally improves drainage
- Avoid cutting your lawn too short, since exposed soil is an open invite for moss.
- Avoid over-watering your lawn. We certainly get enough rainfall to sustain grass growth for most of the year. In the summer, give your lawn deep but infrequent waterings.
- Apply moss control products in the spring.
Remember, don’t try to rake out lawn moss while it’s still alive since you’ll likely just spread the spores further. Wait until your treatments have made the environment inhospitable for the moss, removing it only when it has turned brown.
Sometimes, it’s easy to ignore the lawn in favour of our showier plants. But grass is what covers the majority of our landscape and what remains intact season after season. A lush, healthy, moss-free lawn is what ties together your home’s image and makes it really pop. With proper care and fertilization, your landscape will be the nicest in the neighbourhood!