In the spring, according to the poet Tennyson, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. But chances are, if that man owns a home, he’s more likely to be thinking about all the lawn care chores he has stretching out in front of him, from spring through fall.
Having a beautiful lawn during the summer means you have to do the right things in the spring to prepare it for weeks of hot, humid weather and long dry spells – the hallmarks of a New Jersey summer. But while it may sound like a tall order, luckily, all it takes is a little planning, a little preparation, and a little know-how to get your lawn ready for the warm breezes of spring. Here’s what to do:
- Attack weeds early. Applying a pre-emergent weed killer can help you get a head start on crabgrass and other weeds that can crowd out grass and leach important nutrients from your soil. Don’t make the mistake many homeowners make and go overboard; follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully for the best results.
- Have your soil tested. Is your soil acidic? Alkaline? Do you know? Buy a kit or send it off for testing, then decide what you need to add to your soil so it can provide the nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth. Also consider the structure of your soil – does it have enough organic material? Clayey soil can prevent plants from establishing strong roots and it can also cause your lawn to drain slowly, which can increase the likelihood your grass will develop a fungal problem.
- Fertilize or top-dress. Different types of grass have different nutrient requirements, so before casting a handful of general-purpose fertilizer over your lawn, do a little research to determine which type of fertilizer to use and how much to apply. In most cases, heavy applications of fertilizer are reserved for fall, but a springtime application can give roots the boost they need to get ready for the hot summer ahead.
- Address drainage issues. Spring is the ideal time to consider having drains installed in areas where water collects after a rain. Standing water kills plants, looks awful, and provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Sometimes, all it takes are a few minor changes like altering the slope of your yard or adding a dry well to make your yard more attractive and enjoyable.
- Have your irrigation system checked and maintained. Scheduling maintenance now means you can identify problems early so your system will be ready for action once the growing season is in full swing. An evaluation can also identify upgrades that could save you money.
- Stock up on supplies. Nothing is quite as frustrating as being in the middle of a difficult or unpleasant chore and discovering you don’t have the tools, equipment or supplies to complete it. That means you have to either put off completing the chore until another day, or drop it while you take time out to go to the store and tack down what you need. In either case, you wind up losing momentum and motivation and wasting time to boot. Take an inventory now of the supplies you have on hand and make a note of what you’re out of or running short on, then make a shopping list and head to the store. Don’t forget string for your trimmer or pipe tape for quick repairs of hose and pipe leaks.
One more tip: Either get an “old-fashioned” calendar or use your smartphone or tablet to make a schedule of lawn care tasks so you stay on top of chores throughout the season. It’s a little effort that can pay off big.