May 7 2019 11:10 AM

As spring rains and sunshine begin to revitalize dormant turf, the initial burst of green growth can give a homeowner a false sense of security, making it seem as though all that’s needed is regular watering and mowing. But keeping a lawn in top shape all year ‘round also involves a bit of preventive maintenance.

Spring is a good time for you as a lawn care professional to educate your clients about the importance of taking measures that can nip potential problems in the bud before they become expensive hassles. And, pay off in the form of lush, green turf for summertime recreation and relaxation.

Testing soil samples. A soil quality test will provide important information about any amendments that may be needed.

Aeration. In the northern U.S., where cool-season grass is dominant, aeration is recommended annually to improve drainage and prepare the soil for any seed application. In older or heavily trafficked lawns, the soil is often compacted, keeping water, air and nutrients from getting to the turf’s roots. Core aeration in late April through mid-May is the remedy. It’s especially beneficial for lawns that suffered drought-induced dormancy in the previous summer or fall.

Dethatching. Thatch, a buildup of dead organic material, is common in lawns. Once it thickens beyond about half an inch, it’s time to get rid of it. Like aeration, removing thatch allows water, air and nutrients to penetrate the soil more easily. It helps prevent root rot and drought stress and discourages pests and fungal growth. As you dethatch in mid-to-late spring, look for the signs of overwatering or overfertilizing that are the common causes of thatch buildup.

Seeding. A client may want to plant new areas or overseed existing turf. Use seed that is not only a good match for the region but also that particular lawn, such as the type of soil it has and amount of sunlight it gets. When you plant is important, too — generally April through late October — but certain regions may have optimal seeding times that are within a more narrow range. Seeding early, before the summer arrives, enables grass to develop longer roots and become better established with stronger weed resistance.

Fertilizing. Homeowners often want to fertilize too early in the year, rather than waiting until several weeks after the grass turns green. Talk to your clients about when and how much to fertilize. Let them know you can help them save money by fertilizing naturally; many don’t know that through mulch mowing, a lawn can fertilize itself. Grass clippings, left in place, will deliver nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium back to the lawn.

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