🌱EARLY SPRING LAWN CARE TIP 1 OF 16 🌱
Raking your lawn should be the first task this spring as the temperature turns warm. I know what you’re thinking
“I raked leaves all autumn long!”
In the spring raking isn’t just about cleaning up your leaves. It’s about controlling thatch. Over the winter, grass blades, leaves and other debris add to your lawn’s thatch layer.
We’ve had a very mild winter, but typically the grass will be matted from snow and rain or even snow mold which can smother ￼new growth if it is not broken up.
In the early spring, you’ll want to rake with a strong upward pull to remove dead grass. Be sure that you don’t rake when your grass isn’t wet and the soil isn’t soft and muddy.
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🌾Fill In Bare Spots With Seed🌾
Over the winter, even a mild winter like this one, your lawn may have developed some bare spots. Now is the time to take care of those bare spots.
If you don’t take care of your bare spots now then weeds will undoubtedly fill those spots in. Mother Nature loves to cover bare ground.
Start by spreading a good seed on the bare areas to start the process of filling in the bare spots. Lay on some topsoil and tamp it down. Follow with fertilizer and water the area regularly.
If you really want to ensure that your bare spots fill in get a soil test done to make sure you’re adding the right nutrients to your soil.
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One of the biggest problems facing lawns in Northern Virginia is compacted soil. Compacted soil is difficult for grass to grow in.
The best time to aerate depends on your lawn and the conditions in your area.
If you didn’t aerate your lawn in the fall then early spring would be a good time to take care of that now so you can break up your soil and prepare for seeding.
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As we mentioned when we spoke about raking, dethatching is an important process for your lawn in the early spring.
Dethatching is the manual removal of the layer of dead grass and debris from your lawn. A thick layer of thatch can keep water and nutrients from reaching your grass roots.
To dethatch your lawn push your rake tines deep into the grass to be sure to pull the thatch layer up from within the grass.
If your lawn has built up too much thatch you may need to rent a dethatching or power rake or possibly even look into core aeration.
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Make A Plan For Your Weeds
Most companies will tell you to just pelt your yard with weed treatment in the spring, but this could be the WRONG thing for you to do!
If you’re planning on seeding your lawn this spring then you need to be very careful which weed pre-emergent you use or you’ll kill your seed before it ever gets a chance to grow.
At MowCow, we work with you to create a pre-emergent plan for your yard so we can apply the proper preventatives to keep weeds from taking over your yard and allowing your seed to grow.
Healthy lawns resist weeds, but some still might peak their way through especially if your soil isn’t healthy. If you’re having problems with weeds we recommend getting a soil test to see where you lawn is lacking in nutrients.
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Get A Soil Test
For your lawn to grow turf grass successfully, your soil must be healthy. In Northern Virginia, our soil has been turned over so many times from construction and development that nutrients can be wildly different from one side of a yard to another.
We recommend all of our clients do soil tests on their lawns to see what nutrients are lacking in different parts of the lawn prior to beginning a lawn care program. You can’t know the best way to treat a lawn until you know what nutrients it needs.
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The beginning of the season is the best time to start watering your lawn. This means you won’t have to rush to try to saturate your lawn later in the year.
Now when the grass starts growing the roots grow first so it’s important to give them enough water to grow.
A good way to tell if your lawn has enough water is to simply talk a walk across it. If your grass blades spring back after you step on them, then most likely they are healthy. But if they don’t, it is time to water.
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Mow To The Right Height
It’s easy to forget that your lawn is not one big plant. Your lawn is made up hundreds of thousands of individual grass plants.
Just like other plants, your individual grass plants need to be pruned to thrive.
If you cut back a plant too far or cut your grass too low then it won’t have enough remaining to grow and become fuller.
Conversely, if you don’t cut back a plant enough or mow your lawn enough, then it can become overgrown allowing it to become an environment when insects and grubs can thrive.
If you prune you plants to the right length and cut your lawn to the right height then you’ll create a low-maintenance and stress resistant lawn that also resists weeds.
So what is the right height? It depends:
For cool-season grass like Fescue or Kentucky Bluegrass, keep your grass at around 2.5-4 inches.
For warm-season grass like Bermuda, keep your grass at around 1-3 inches
During the growing season, mow your lawn every 5-7 days to maintain ideal height. During the slower times, mow less often.
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Tune Up Your Mower
Spring is a great time of year to tune up your lawn mower. We recommend taking it to a professional, but if you feel comfortable servicing your mower be sure to take the proper safety precautions.
Here are the services that we recommend:
➡️Change the oil & filter
➡️Replace the spark plug
➡️Sharpen the blade
➡️Clean the mower deck
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Clean Up Your Yard
After there could be debris around your yard. Now is the time to clean up that debris.
Take a walk around your yard and gather up any twigs, branches or other debris that you find. Dispose of that small twigs and leaves in your compost pile.
It’s also a good time to rake out your lawn to dethatch it and remove any dead grass from your turf. This dead grass can go on your compost pile as well.
If your yard needs a lot of clean up give us a call and ask us about our Clean Up & Mulch service.
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Edge Your Beds
Early spring means soft soil and soft soil means edging your beds is easy.
Use a tool with a sharp blade like a garden space or edger.
Cut a 2-3 inch deep trench in a V-Shape along the beds to cut back your grass.
Throughout the year, maintain your edges with a string trimmer.
Only re-edge as needed.
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By the end of winter, your mulch from the previous year has probably lost its color. If you’re not using high quality mulch it probably turned much sooner.
At MowCow, we use an exclusive Triple Shred Hard Wood Oak Bark Mulch that holds its color much longer than lower quality mulch. Our clients typically only turn their mulch once per year, around June or July.
Applying mulch not only adds color to your beds, but it prevents weed growth by blocking the sun. Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch to your beds around, but not on top of your plants.
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Check Your Hoses
Spring is the time of year when you’re going to want to start watering your lawn so spring is the time to make sure that your tools are in working order.
One tool that home owners often forget is their garden hoses. You’ll definitely want to take care of them before we reach the heat of summer.
Make sure that your hoses aren’t kinked or damaged. Water flows freely through them. And your brass couplings and rubber washers are in working order and attach securely to spigots.
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To Bag Or Not To Bag
Grass clippings can be a great source of nutrients for your lawn. They are full of nitrogen and decompose quickly to create free fertilizer.
If you let it, your mower can chop your clippings up and recycle them back into the soil.
If you don’t want to leave your clippings, you can catch them and add them to your compost pile. Their quick decomposition helps speed up the decomposition of the rest of the pile.
Be careful if you do leave your clippings on your yard. You must strike a balance between the right amount of clippings on your lawn and too much. If you leave too many grass clippings on the lawn it can overwhelm your grass.
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Check For Compaction
The soil in Northern Virginia is unique. The construction and development in the area means that it has been turned over again and again.
This can cause what is called compaction.
Compaction is when the soil has been packed down so there is little room for water or roots to penetrate. This might not seem like a big deal, but water helps nutrients reach your plants and deeper roots means more sturdy plants.
How can you identify compacted soil?
Take a look around your lawn, if you find moss, that’s a sign of compacted soil.
Aeration is the solution to compacted soil. Aeration breaks up the soil allowing greater reach for nutrients and water into the soil and letting the roots growing deeper into the soil.
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After doing a soil test to discover in which nutrients your soil is deficient it’s time to start fertilizing.
Spring coming early means that you’ll need to start fertilizing your lawn early as well. Typically, home owners want to begin fertilizing their lawn 3-4 weeks after the grass starts greening and growing.
Don’t apply fertilizer too early or you could feed weeds and cause run off. It can also lead to blade growth before the roots are ready to support it.
When you fertilize your lawn, be sure to choose a fertilizer that is formulated for your area. Follow the directions and do not over-fertilize.
At MowCow, our lawn treatment plans include fertilizer that is specially formulated for lawns in Northern Virginia.