By Michelle Sordi
The first sign of spring can awaken the gardening enthusiast in many homeowners. Warmer weather brings with it the anticipation of barbecues with friends and lounging by the pool, all while admiring the beauty of your backyard. But what if you don’t have the green thumb to create the ultimate oasis for you and your guests to enjoy? Lawn and yard maintenance can be frustrating for some homeowners, but it doesn’t have to be. Anyone can achieve a healthy looking lawn with a little bit of time, along with the rights tools and materials. The following are a few tips to help you prep and maintain your yard this season.
It Starts at the Root
Check your soil quality before you start any other work—grass grows best in a moist and fertile bed. Soils affected by adverse conditions, such as winter, may become compacted and lose their structure. The little pockets of air beneath the surface are squeezed together, preventing water and nutrients from moving freely throughout the soil. This makes it more difficult for roots to grow and harder for plants and grass to flourish. To improve the soil, homeowners should aerate their lawns in the spring and fall to ensure essential nutrients can reach deep within the earth. An aerator is designed to alleviate soil compaction, which prevents proper circulation of air and nutrients. Homeowners should look for machines that are self-propelled and feature free-wheeling outer tires for better manoeuvrability around corners and tight areas. And before you get started, be sure to moisten the soil—aerating is best done a day after watering or a rainfall. Aerating your lawn also helps break up thatch, which is the interwoven layer of living and dead tissue that helps to improve lawn health. Thatch of more than half an inch, however, harbours disease.
On the Surface
Grass growth starts to slow just before winter sets in. You will need to reignite the process to promote a healthy lawn throughout the spring and summer seasons. Be sure to examine the condition of your grass once the snow melts. If there is any winter damage, you may need to topdress with soil and overseed with new grass seed. Compost can be used for topdressing, as it helps improve the soil’s quality, while also combatting lawn diseases. Follow this with overseeding to repair patches and renew overall growth. A rule of thumb is to use roughly 0.9 kg to 1.8 kg per 93 m2 (2 lb to 4 lb per 1000 sf) for overseeding, but do feel free to double this amount if your lawn has undergone a difficult winter. Depending on the size of your lawn, you may need a machine to help distribute the new seed. Otherwise, it can easily be done by hand.
Regularly watering your lawn is one of the key factors in promoting its healthy growth. Establishing a watering schedule early on helps keep the soil moist for proper maintenance, especially throughout the summer months. Be sure to let the grass dry out before the dew falls, since extended moisture invites disease. The best time to water is pre-dawn or early morning. Watering this often can be costly, so consider adding a rain barrel to your home, as it is an easy way to capture water for watering lawns, yards, and gardens. Be sure to put a screen on top of your barrel to keep out unwanted debris and creatures.