Prepare Your Lawn for a Greener Spring

As winter enters its last hoorahs, you may ponder how soon your brown lawn will become a lush, green carpet once more. With the right steps, it’ll happen sooner than you think.

First, you need to know a few things about the condition of your lawn.

Start by looking at the thatch, that loose layer of dead and living stems, roots and debris found between the soil and grass blades. When thatch builds up, it can restrict the air, water and nutrients your lawn needs to thrive, says Patrick Chlada, president and founder of Revive Your Lawn. His Chicago-area landscape firm specializes in outdoor living spaces.

To really understand the state of your thatch, poke around with your finger, says Chlada. If it’s more than a half-inch thick, it’s time to use a power rake, a heavy-duty tool that rakes out dead material.

While you’re assessing your lawn, consider whether the ground below it feels soft or compacted. If the lawn feels hard and looks bare, it’s time to get the aerator. This power tool perforates the soil with holes so that air, water and nutrients can better penetrate the grass. This process of loosening up the ground helps the thatch to refresh itself, Chlada adds.

Finally, take a look at your lawn and get a feeling for the amount of weeds hiding in your turf. While dandelions make themselves obvious, weeds like crabgrass and henbit spring up while the turf is dormant, says Chlada.

There are two ways to attack weeds. One method is to lay down extra grass seed once temperatures start rise above 50 degrees. This process creates a thicker lawn that blocks out weeds. The better line of defense, Chlada says, is fertilizer with a pre-emergent herbicide that’ll kill any unwelcomed visitors.

“Pre-emergent stops weeds from growing and germinating,” Chlada says. “However, you don’t want to use pre-emergent and overseed at the same time. The pre-emergent will kill germinating seeds, so if you overseed, look for weeds and treat as needed to ensure your lawn has enough nutrition for the beginning of the year.”

Revive Your Lawn is located at 4828 Lawndale Ave., Ste. C, in McCook, (630) 890-9387.