Plenty of households are preparing for the release of the last season of HBO’s fantasy series “Game of Thrones,” gleefully chanting the Stark family motto: Winter is coming. However, in real life, winter is essentially over, which means most homeowners would do better to repeat “Summer is coming.”
Summer is full of outdoor fun, but for your outdoors to look good and hold up against the summer sun, you need to prepare. Your lawn, in particular, can struggle if you don’t start now to help it through the summer months. The extra heat can dry out the soil, and too much sunlight can burn dry grass to a crisp. Plus, grass grows well throughout the spring, so before long your manicured lawn could look wild and untamed.
Here’s what you need to do now and throughout the summer. If it seems like too much, don’t hesitate to call a local lawn service for help — because no matter what, summer is coming.
If you haven’t already, you need to get outside and get stuff off your lawn. Throughout fall and winter, debris from surrounding plants fall onto your grass and often gets covered by snow or ignored due to low temperatures and dark skies. However, now that spring is basically here, you need to rake up leaves and twigs, remove larger branches and generally give your lawn the ability to soak up sunlight and water. By neglecting this chore, you are basically ensuring unhealthy compaction of the soil, which means it virtually impossible for grass to grow. Thus, the sooner in the growing season you can remove debris, the better.
Speaking of compaction, snow, foot traffic and other factors besides debris can cause the soil your lawn grows in to become compressed. If your lawn is patchy, especially in high-use areas, you probably need to spend time aerating this spring. Aeration consists of pulling cores of soil out of your lawn to reduce compaction and allow for better permeation of light, water, fertilizer and other nutrients. If you don’t have an aeration tool — or don’t trust yourself to perform the task properly — you can hire a local lawn service to aerate quickly and inexpensively before summer.
If you only fertilize once per year, it should be in fall. However, if you want to guarantee your lawn’s year-round health, you might want to consider fertilizing in spring, too. Spring fertilizer should stimulate growth in the foliage, i.e. the blades of grass, which means you should find a variety that is high in nitrogen. If you have a medium- or large-sized lawn, you will want to invest in a drop spreader to ensure even distribution, but if you have a small patch of grass, you might be able to sprinkle the fertilizer evenly with your hands.
Of course, water is among the most important nutrients for a growing lawn, but it is incredibly important how and when you water. If you have a scheduled irrigation system, you can more accurately control how much water your lawn gets, which could mean the difference between an immaculate, lush lawn and a lawn that looks just okay.
During the spring, when nighttime temperatures can still drop quite low, you should try to water in the early morning, so water has time to soak into the soil before night, when it could freeze and damage the plant. As always, your lawn should get about 1.5 inches of water per week, and fewer, deeper drinks tend to be better.
If you only mow when it looks like you need to mow, you aren’t mowing enough. Typically, by the time grass looks “too long,” it is dangerous to cut it back to where it needs to be; removing too much of any plant at one time is a surefire way to send that plant into shock, which means dead patches, slow growth, and a generally disappointing appearance.
As your lawn begins to grow in the spring, you should get in the habit of mowing every 10 days or so; then, when summer hits, you will probably need to mow every week. You should never remove more than one-third of the height of your lawn, and your mower blades should be kept perfectly sharp to prevent ripping.
Summer is coming, and if you don’t work to prepare your lawn starting now, your summer could be bleak. Fortunately, once you get in the habit of lawn care, it doesn’t feel worse than any other chore — but if you don’t have the time, you can always hire lawn professionals to keep your lawn looking great.