The return of spring means it’s time to get started on this year’s lawn maintenance! Fortunately, reviving your lawn after winter is less work than mowing in the summer heat or even raking up thick layers of leaves throughout fall, and it gives every homeowner the perfect reason to get up and get moving outdoors in the fresh spring air and gentle sunshine.
As you read through our guide to spring lawn care, keep in mind that completing this full list likely won’t be necessary for every Middle Tennessee yard. Take a walk around your yard and carefully assess the health and condition of your lawn before you get started, then pick and choose the recommendations that will bring your lawn back to life.
Here are the steps Parks recommends for spring lawn care:
1.) Clear Debris
If this year’s rains and storms have left your lawn littered with small twigs or branches, it’s time to fully clear them away before they damage your mower’s blades. As long as the debris you gather doesn’t include weeds, you can toss it all into your compost pile or bin.
2.) Dethatch Your Lawn’s Roots
The tangled layer of dead turfgrass matter that has accumulated at your lawn’s roots should be cleared away with a sturdy dethatching rake. A thatch layer that’s more than ½" thick will prevent your lawn’s roots from receiving enough oxygen and nutrients, while also hanging on to too much water. The resulting spongy soil will cause your mower to sink, potentially leaving patches of grass “scalped” nearly bare.
3.) Cover Bare Patches
If your lawn is struggling to grow in places, provide a bit of fresh topsoil. Spring is not the time to reseed—wait until fall—but fresh soil combined with well-balanced fertilizer will likely give your lawn the encouragement it needs to flourish more evenly.
4.) Fertilize Properly
Once your grass has begun to grow, apply a fertilizer with a crabgrass preventive. A thick, lush lawn will naturally crowd out weeds, but because crabgrass is a constant struggle in Tennessee, it’s best to prevent it from taking root.
Adding a weed-and-feed can be a good idea as well, but apply it later in the spring for best results. Water your lawn thoroughly a few days before applying a weed-and-feed for optimal results.
5.) For Instant Results, Choose Sod
While spring is not the time to add seed to your lawn (because fertilizers and weed preventives attack delicate grass seeds), you may need a picture-perfect lawn right away. If you are planning to put your home up for sale in mid-spring or early summer and your lawn is truly in a sorry state, consider purchasing sod.
While the initial cost will clearly be higher for sod, as compared to grass seed, your home will likely sell much more quickly if the curbside appeal is maximized through beautiful landscaping.
6.) Postpone Aerating
A healthy lawn requires aeration but aerating in early spring only gives opportunistic weeds the chance to take root deep down in the soil. While there are dire situations that require early spring aeration, most Tennessee homeowners should hold off on aerating their warm-season grasses until late spring.
7.) Edge and Mulch
The soft soil of early spring makes edging a breeze, so take advantage and create crisp, clean edges around your lawn.
Once your grass is fully edged, lay down a 1”-thick layer of hardwood mulch in the surrounding garden beds and tree roots. Keep the mulch away from tree trunks, however, and be careful not to let mulch layers exceed 3”.
Mulching will keep your garden looking tidy, of course, but mulch will also keep your plants cool and evenly moist at the roots. As your mulch breaks down over time, it will nourish the soil, providing one final benefit to your yard before it needs to be replaced.
8.) Service Your Mower
Please note: if your mower runs on gas, be sure not to turn it over as you work on it. Instead, tip it to one side or mount it securely above you as you work.
Now that your lawn is ready to grow like mad, be ready to tame it with a properly-cared-for mower. Change out the spark plugs, oil, and air filter. Clean the blades and undercarriage thoroughly. Finally, sharpen the blades and fill the fuel tank.
If you’re not comfortable completing your mower’s maintenance, take it to a local service center and have it brought up to speed before mowing season is in full swing.
9.) Let Your Grass Grow
While a tidy lawn completes the picture-perfect American home, grass that’s a bit taller is healthier over time. Taller grass lays down deeper roots, yielding a lawn that’s lush, verdant, and weed-free.
To keep your grass high without sacrificing a crisp look, set your lawnmower to its tallest setting. A three or four inch setting will likely keep your grass looking its best year after year.
Whether you’re getting your lawn ready for Easter egg hunts and summer barbeques or rather preparing to place your home on the market, we hope this guide has helped you feel prepared to tackle the most important spring lawn care tasks. Leave us a comment below if you have further questions—or just tell us what your plans are for outdoor hosting this spring and summer!