Spring Lawn Care

Landmark’s Tips for Spring Lawn Care

Rake all leaves, twigs, brown vegetation and debris from lawn to allow the sun’s full warmth and light to reach the soil.

Check the Thatch Layer Build-Up
Thatch is the layer of dead grass found at ground level, below the healthy green grass. If thatch is 1/2 inch thick or more, it must be removed to allow fertilizer and moisture to work into the soil. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Removal of thatch forces the grass roots to go deeper instead of growing within the thatch layer. When the extreme heat of summer arrives, shallow rooted grass will not survive.
All thatch must be removed from any area in which you intend to seed, as seed MUST come in direct contact with soil.
Thatch can be removed with a special thatch rake (available at Landmark) if the area is small, but for larger areas you will need to rent a power thatcher.

Testing the Soil
Do it yourself soil test kits are for sale at Landmark, or soil samples can be brought to Landmark for testing. The court house in Port Washington also has soil test kits for sale which you fill and send to Madison for testing. (It takes about two weeks.)

Checking for Crabgrass
The most effective time to apply a pre-emergent crabgrass control is in April or early May. Landmark also carries a summer crabgrass control. Always allow grass to grow to a full 3 – 3 1/2 inches before the first spring mowing. (Cut to 2 1/2 inches.) This will help shade the crabgrass seed and inhibit its germination. See mowing paragraph below.

Over Seeding
Areas treated for crabgrass should not be seeded this spring. Wait for late summer. All other areas should be checked for bare spots or thinning. Seed as early in spring as possible. Soil should be dry enough so that it will not stick to boots. When squeezed in your hand, it should not drip water, and it should crumble easily. Soil temperature should be 50 – 60 degrees. Consider whether the area will be shady or sunny, wet or dry, heavy traffic, etc.

Before seeding, be sure to read the paragraph on thatch build-up above. Once thatch is removed, prepare soil for over-seeding by scratching the surface with a bow or garden rake. The amount of seed required is sometimes difficult to determine. It’s always better to buy a little more than you feel you’ll need. Any excess grass seed will keep for quite a few years if stored in a dry place.

Mulching with straw can be very beneficial. It will reduce erosion, and protect seedlings from extreme temperature changes and the moisture robbing effect of the wind and sun. Keep it light though, figure on one bale for each 1,000 sq. ft. (25 x 40 foot area).

Next to fall, the most important time to fertilize is early spring. Landmark recommends a high nitrogen fertilizer in spring. Nitrogen is the first set of numbers on the fertilizer bag: (00-xx-xx). It encourages a lush green top growth. For areas NOT being seeded, a lawn builder, like 27-3-3 or 27-5-10 (both are slow release) is just the ticket. A low cost option would be 10-10-10 (fast release) or Milorganite.
For areas being over-seeded, Landmark recommends a fertilizer high in phosphorous. It encourages root development. Phosphorous is the second set of numbers on the fertilizer bag: (xx-00-xx). We also sell a starter fertilizer made specifically for the job. Milorganite may also be used.
A healthy lawn will actually crowd out weeds. Until your lawn reaches this point, however, you may want to use a weed & feed. Spring is the best time to do this.

Make sure you’re starting the season with a good sharp blade on your mower. Raise the blade to a height of 2 1/2 inches, and cut the lawn when it reaches about 3 1/2 inches. This longer grass has several advantages:
It helps maintain a constant soil temperature for better growing conditions.
It blocks sunlight from weed seeds, helping to prevent germination.
It creates a higher photo synthesis to encourage deeper root growth.
Deeper roots will better handle the extreme heat later this summer.

If you have questions about anything on this page, please feel free to ask us.