Happy first day of Spring!
Although this winter was milder than past winters, having a variety of warm days mixed with cold gave many an extended case of Spring Fever (including us here at Paradise Lawns). Weather is always unpredictable in the Midwest and warm weather, just because Spring has been officially declared, is not guaranteed. However, the days continue to grow longer; warming the soil until it reaches the right temperature to set new growth in motion. Let’s look at 5 things you can do this spring to set your lawn up for success this summer.
1. Yard Clean Up
Each Spring, homeowners return to their yards only to find it littered with debris. Perhaps you never finished cleaning your yard last fall, or strong winter winds brought down leaf and tree debris. Then there is the trash that has found its way into your yard. Raise your hand if you have had to remove a plastic grocery bag along your fence line or bushes. If you didn’t keep up with your pet’s waste removal during the winter, now is the time to clean that up too.
Don’t put it off
Sure, spring cleaning isn’t on anyone’s favorite to-do list, but it is beneficial to take the time to clean your yard and start the warm-weather months fresh and tidy. Taking care of it now will save you time in the summer. Like Bob Vila cautions, cutting corners now could mean that at the peak of summer, you’ll be spending your weekends making up for spring lawn care oversights. In other words, it’s in your best interest to act now. Stay on top of the game to ensure healthy and beautiful grass that demands no more of your time than is strictly necessary.
You can outsource the task if you don’t have the time or desire to do it yourself. There are several landscape and pet waste removal companies in the metro area. Paradise Lawns doesn’t offer these services directly but we are happy to help our clients find reputable companies that do.
2. Test your pH balance in your soil
Paradise Lawns highly recommends that you have your soil’s pH level tested. A pH soil test checks your soil’s acidity level. By having this valuable information, Paradise Lawns can work with you and give recommendations on how to balance it if needed. The pH scale runs from 0-14. The middle of the scale is called “Neutral” and is right at 7. Any number reading below 7 is acidic and anything over is alkaline. It is important to know your lawn’s level because it influences how easily your grass can take up nutrients from the soil.
Why it is important
With too much acid or alkaline in the soil, nutrients will not dissolve, meaning your grass roots won’t thrive. If your lawn is too acidic, adding fertilizer still won’t produce the results you seek. Why? Simply put, if your soil pH level is not balanced, you are NOT getting the best results because fertilizers are not being used 100% efficiently. By providing your lawn with the nutrients it needs and having your lawn’s pH level balanced, you will save money in the long run and reap maximum results from treatments. Because Paradise Lawns feels strongly about balanced soil being a vital component to having a healthy lawn, we offer complimentary pH soil testing to all new clients. To learn more about pH balance check out our 2019 blog “Balance your soil – change your lawn.”
3. Apply a Pre-emergent
Few things compare to the joy of seeing your lawn turn from brown to a lush green each spring! However, wherever green grass grows, inevitably weeds appear. To start the season off right, Paradise Lawns offers a pre-emergent treatment. We recommend applying a pre-emergent in order to prevent weeds from reaching full growth before they even appear. With pre-emergent, timing is important. The goal is to treat your lawn before weeds have a chance to germinate.
Timing is important
As a rule-of-thumb, the best time is late March through early April. A more precise indicator is achieved by monitoring soil temperature. Plant Pathologist, Brad Fresenburg, says that the best time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide is when the temperature in the top one inch of soil has been 55 degrees F for five consecutive days. Don’t worry about taking your soil temperature though, Paradise Lawns is tracking it and will act when the time is right (if you have scheduled your service – so if you haven’t already, do so sooner than later to ensure proper treatment timing).
6 Step Fertilization Program
Once the pre-emergent treatment is applied, Paradise Lawns continues to spot treat weeds when needed, as part of our 6 Step Fertilization Program. Beyond this we continue to partner with you to address any issues and recommend courses of action as part of your customized lawn care plan. Having a customized lawn care plan helps to keep costs down because we only recommend treatments that we feel would benefit your lawn.
4. Turn on your sprinkler system
For many homeowners, Spring is when sprinkler systems are reactivated. The most common time to schedule is in mid-March. As the saying goes, “if you don’t like the weather in Nebraska, wait a day and it will change.” We may start to experience warmer daytime temperatures, but we are still prone to overnight hard freezing into May. Drain your system or wrap your backflow preventer with heavy blankets if a cold snap is predicted. So, if you venture out to cover your new garden plants, take a minute to protect your sprinkler system from the cold as well.
Activate your sprinkler system
Equipped with only a screwdriver, you may be able to activate your sprinkler system yourself by following the How to Activate Your Sprinkler System in Spring guide from Waterwise. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, don’t worry. There are several companies in the metro area available to hire. Paradise Lawns recommends Quality Irrigation.
5. Prepare your mower
Now is the best time to prepare your lawn mowing equipment for the upcoming mowing season. No matter if you service your mower in preparation for mowing, or take your equipment somewhere to be serviced, it is important to have it inspected and repaired before heavy spring and summer use. Simple things like making sure your mower blades are sharp will help keep your lawn healthy.
First mow of the season
If you prefer to hire someone to mow for you, now is the time to contact a lawn mowing service to establish or commence service before your yard becomes overgrown. Once you set up the service, they will begin mowing when the time is right, so you won’t have to worry about when to mow for the first time of the season.
Prefer to mow yourself? It is recommended that you wait until your grass is between 2-3 inches to mow for the first time “to prevent grass injury and protect the roots of the grass from being infected with a lawn disease and weeds.” “Cutting too low, and especially to the bottom of the grass crowns, results in lawns that cannot resist weeds and quickly becomes unattractive when stressed by heat or drought.”
Grass length guidelines
For ideal mowing length by grass type, take a look at the following from Turf Magazine.
- Bahia: 2.5 to 4 inches
- Bermudagrass: 0.5 to 2.5 inches
- Centipede: 1 to 2.5 inches
- Kikuyugrass: 1 to 1.5 inches
- St. Augustine: 1 to 3 inches
- Zoysia: 0.5 to 3 inches
- Fine fescue: 1.5 to 4 inches
- Kentucky bluegrass: 1 to 3.5 inches
- Perennial ryegrass: 0.75 to 2.5 inches
- Tall fescue: 1.5 to 4 inches
While mowing is not a service Paradise Lawns directly offers, we are happy to help you with referrals and tips for hiring a local, reputable lawn mowing service.
We hope you’re now excited to prepare your lawn for summer with the 5 steps outlined above. While you do so, delight in dreaming of summer and enjoy the excitement of Spring. As you prepare your lawn, remember that Paradise Lawns is here for you. We are available to help with pre-emergent weed control solutions and pH soil testing. If you need assistance with yard clean up, sprinkler activation and mowing, let us know. We may not offer those services directly, but are happy to help connect you with companies we know and trust. Have a pool or spa that you need to prepare as well? Check out Continental Pool and Spa or Olympic Pool and Spa for information on what you need to do to prepare for summer.