How To Prepare Your Lawn & Yard for Spring in 7 Simple Steps

We understand the feeling. It’s been a long winter and the warmer weather is making you eager to get outside and start working in the yard. You’re looking forward to green grass and flowering plants. Spring lawn preparation now will do a lot to ensure a beautiful lawn this summer.

 How do you prepare your lawn for spring?

​Here are some simple steps to get your lawn and landscape ready for spring.

1. Don’t be too eager. Walking on a lawn that is wet and saturated will track it up, possibly causing damage. Although it’s spring and you may be anxious to start yard work, stay off of your grass until it is somewhat dry. This will also reduce soil compaction.

2. Clear debris from lawn and landscape. Clean up anything you missed in the Fall. Remove sticks that have fallen over the Winter. Raking up leaves and build up of thatch will allow your grass to breathe.

If your lawn has a serious thatch problem, it may be a good time for heavier dethatching. To be effective, and not damaging, do this in the early spring, before the lawn starts to green.

3. Prune shrubs and clean landscape beds. If you didn’t get your perennials trimmed back in the Fall, remove old growth now. Early spring is also a good time to trim shrubs before the active growing season. (See ‘How and When to Trim Arborvitae.’)

Be careful when choosing which bushes and shrubs to trim. Some plants and shrubs, like azaleas and rhododendron, have their buds set for early flowering. Trimming these now will greatly reduce their blooms.  Notice the bud on the rhododendron plant in the image shown below.

4. Look for damage. An excessive amount of salt runoff can dehydrate plants and cause bare spots on the edges of your lawn. Often spring rains dilute the salt and help to wash it away. Give your plants some time to recover as often they come back just fine.

If you’re concerned about damage, you can treat your soil or lawn with gypsum (calcium sulfate) soil conditioner. This will help to dissipate the salt and encourage growth.

Look for other signs of damage or disease, such as snow mold. (read more about snow mold in lawns.)

5. Apply fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide. Spring is the time to fertilize your lawn and many shrubs. Fertilizers with pre-emergent will help prevent weeds from sprouting.

A word of caution: If you apply weed killer too early, it will simply wash away. But, once the soil temperature hits 55 degrees and above, crabgrass starts growing, and this is the time to apply a pre-emergent.

Crabgrass is a heat-loving grass. So pay special attention to the edges of your driveway and along rock surfaces. Also bare spots in your grass are prime real estate for weed seeds in the spring.

6. Don’t seed just yet. If you are applying weed pre-emergent you cannot put down grass seed in the same area. The pre-emergent will also prevent the grass seed from growing. If you have areas where you’d like to reseed, it’s best to wait until a little later in the season.

Remember that there are different types of grasses. When reseeding, you’ll want to choose a quality grass seed that matches your lawn. If you purchase just any cheap grass seed mix, it will introduce new varieties into your lawn and you’ll notice the difference.

7. Wait to aerate. Although aerating can be done anytime, we do not recommend doing it in the Spring. It opens up the soil for weed seedlings that are prevalent this time of year. A better choice is to aerate in the Summer or Fall.

These spring lawn care tips will help you make the most of your time outside, and establish a good foundation for this growing season.