It is always exciting when that first hint of spring hits the air, the winter snow begins to melt and your lawn finally starts to emerge from beneath a blanket of white. Those first signs of green can be invigorating after the dark, cold winter months; so invigorating that it is almost impossible not to run right out and get started on your lawn. For some, it might be the one time of year when they truly look forward to a little yard work.
While the urge to get a jump on things is strong, it is important to exercise a little patience when it comes to your lawn. Rushing in without a plan can actually do more harm than good. The key is to have a well-designed approach to lawn care before you ever head outside. The following to-do list will ensure you can revive your lawn and keep it healthy as you head into the summer months.
Task #1: Thatch removal
If your lawn feels like it has thick, spongy underpadding, dethatching may be necessary. Thatch is a tightly interwoven layer of roots and dead or living stems that develops between the growing grass plants and the soil surface. It is usually formed as a result of infrequent cutting, over-fertilization or excessive irrigation. Contrary to popular belief, mulching your grass clippings will not contribute to thatch in a healthy lawn. Thatch can harbour many lawn-threatening diseases and pests, while also preventing nutrients, moisture and grass roots from reaching the soil.
When dethatching, it is always best to use a fixed blade dethatcher, which removes thatch by cutting and gently lifting it out of the lawn. These machines, also known as vertical mowers or power rakes, are readily available from most rental shops; dethatching may also be a service offered by your local lawn care company. Fixed blade dethatchers cause a minimal amount of stress to the turf, leaving your lawn with a raked appearance afterwards. These machines will also raise a little bit of soil to the top of the thatch layer; this soil contains microbes that will help to break down even more thatch.
Avoid using any kind of spring tine dethatcher, as it can cause significant harm and place added stress on the lawn, during which it will be more susceptible to pests. Spring tine dethatchers use flexible metal tines that literally flail the lawn to tear out the thatch. While it is true this equipment can remove a large amount of thatch, they can also cause severe damage to your lawn in the process.