Prepping your lawn for spring? Save time and hassle by booking lawn care through our Richmond lawn care page.
Richmond has a bunch of fun things to do in the spring. You could fill up your calendar. The Richmond International Film Festival presents more than 100 films complete with a red carpet. Taste of Ghana gives you a chance to sample Ghanaian cuisine and dance to traditional high-spirited music. St. Paddy’s Palooza celebrates everything Irish with something for all ages. The Richmond Bluegrass Jam rocks. The Maymont Herbs Galore and More is an extravaganza of vegetable, flower and ornamental plants. Which brings me to where I’ve been headed: You also have to put on your calendar: “Spring lawn maintenance.”
The onset of spring is invigorating. Channel some of that energy into your lawn, and you’ll be glad you did when summer is here.
Photo: Kate Ter Haar
Stroll around your lawn and remove any large debris, such as fallen branches or dead plants or just plain junk.
Give your yard a thorough raking. Clear off any dead or matted leaves and grass and evergreen needles, anything that blew your way over the winter. You’ll also be fluffing up the lawn, separating grass shoots and increasing air circulation. You’ll also get a good overview of the state of your lawn, dead spots, matted patches, thatch or compacted soil.
During the winter, dead grass and lawn clippings morph into thatch that hinders the germination of new grass seed, starves roots from essential needs and invites lawn disease and pest infestation. A thin layer of thatch is good; a half an inch or more is not.
You can use that same rake as long as the times are stiff or use a dethatching rake to pull up any thatch.
Photo: Plant Care Today
When soil is compacted, aerating loosens the soil to allow air, water and nutrients to get to the grass roots. Manual aeration works best for small lawns. You’ll need a mechanical aerator for a large lawn. Or you might opt for your lawn service provider to do it for you.
Manual methods are poking holes in your soil with a spike aerator that has a solid tine or fork. Or using a plug aerator that pulls plugs (cores) of grass and soil from the lawn. There are spikes that strap on to your shoes or boots that poke holes into your lawn as you walk around.
Core aerating machines can be rented at a lawn and garden store. They’re expensive. You might want to get a neighbor or two to go in with you. You’ll also appreciate the help getting the awkward equipment from the store to your home.
Photo: Agriculture For Impact
Test the Soil
Spring is the time to find out if your soil needs any amendments. You can have a professional do it. You can buy a kit at a lawn and garden store for $10 to $15. Or you can get a trowel, a bucket and a container and do it yourself.
Make sure the trowel is clean. Dig 5 to 10 holes, 6 to 8 inches deep, at various spots on your lawn. Take a 1/2-inch slice from the side of the each hole and put it in the bucket. Mix it up. Spread it on a newspaper. When it is completely dry, put a sample into your pint-sized plastic container. Send it to an extension office at a university or a commercial lab. The university might charge around $20. The commercial lab considerably more.
Photo: Philip Evans
Have your mower ready to go when it’s needed. Take it in for service or tune it up yourself.
Sharpen the blade or it will damage the grass leaves. That not only ruins the appearance of your lawn, it makes it easy for diseases and pests to move in. Change the oil. Replace spark plugs and air filter. Use a putty knife to remove any caked-on grass from the deck, then wax it to keep future clippings from sticking. Lubricate the wheel bearings and other moving parts.
Photo: Aqua Mechanical
Check the Sprinkler System
If you have a sprinkler system, you don’t want any surprises later. Also, if you check it early, you’ll avoid the rush on the repairman.
Look at the heads to see if they are broken, clogged or leaking and if they are pushed too far into the ground or tilted. Make sure there are no plants blocking the sprinkler. Check the valve for leakage.