Burton, Michigan (PressExposure) March 11, 2008 -- Many people often wonder why their neighbor has a stronger, healthier, and more beautiful lawn then their own. Chances are the neighbor cares for and maintains (or has a company that actually knows the keys to a great lawn) their lawn better than the person who's lawn might not be so nice and beautiful. Well you are in luck. I know the keys to the strong beautiful lawn that you need to do to have that strong, healthy, beautiful lawn that is the envy of the neighborhood, and I am going to share those keys with you. Along with these keys there are steps that you need to do for the entire lawn care season (typically April 1st-November 1st), like properly watering your lawn but today I am just going to focus on the spring time tips.
The first thing that you will want to do is remove the old dead leafs from last fall if you have not already done so. There are several ways this can be achieved. You can rake the leafs. Another way to remove the old leafs from the lawn is to mow the lawn with a bagger attachment. Always dispose of leafs, and lawn clippings properly for your area. Some areas only accept lawn debris at certain times of the year so check with your city or county to make sure they accept them. You can also put them into a compost area for use in your garden after they break down over a couple years as they make an excellent fertilizer for your garden.
The second step that you will want to do is to roll the lawn. Rolling the lawn is important as it smooths out the ground and removes the bumps making your lawn not only easier but safer to mow. Some think when you roll a lawn you just go one way and your done. It is actually best to roll the lawn front to back, diagonally twice, 2nd time being the opposite diagonal of the previous, then side to side (front to back and side to side can be switched but you want to cross diagonals in the middle of the two). If your lawn is already pretty well smooth and flat you can skip this step, its only needed if the lawn is uneven and bumpy.
Next you will want to dethatch your lawn. Dethatching is the process of removing thatch, which is basically the left over dead lawn clippings from your lawn. This process can be done along with step #1 if you rake the lawn. However, when doing it along with cleaning up the leafs you will have to "power rake" (basically meaning put some good strength behind the rake) the lawn. The other way you can do dethatching is to buy a dethatcher for your tractor or contact a lawn care provider that offers the service to do it for you. If you bag your lawn clippings you can generally do this process every couple years.
For this forth step, aeration, I recommend hiring a lawn care provider that offers the service to do it for you as a good aeration machine is quite expensive to purchase, and many of the products targeted for homeowners for aeration simply do not work. Here is a good way to know if know if your aeration product does not work, after you are done there are no "plugs" laying on top of your lawn that were pulled out of the lawn. This step is very important and it is important to do it correctly using the proper machinery because it opens up your lawn for proper air, water and fertilization flow through the ground and to your lawns roots.
This fifth step goes along with step #4 (aeration). This step is called over seeding or re-seeding. This process is just what it sounds like it would be, spreading seed over your current lawn. You want to do this process after doing step #4 and I suggest doing it the same day or day after. Always use a spreader to ensure even distribution of the seeds so the lawn grows in evenly. Also pick a seed that is designed for the area you are seeding (ie. sun, shade, or if you have both find a sun and shade combination mix) and follow the directions on the bag as far as watering your new seeds. You will notice many of the grass seeds suggest using a starter fertilizer to help the seeds grow stronger and better, I do also suggest doing so, however I know there are many people who do not like to use fertilizers for various reasons (kids, pets, environment, ect.). If you are okay with using fertilizers do so about 3-4 weeks (or what your grass seed bag suggests) before aeration and over seeding, but after steps 1, 2 and 3. Also if you are not going to do the fertilization you can combine steps 3, 4 and 5 in their proper order in the same day/ weekend. Remember watering your lawn properly is a very important process that should be maintained season long, and always water new seeds as suggested on the bag of seeds.
The final step for spring is a good thing to do, but not really required. This step is fertilization. You will want to use a weed and feed fertilizer, if you plan on doing this step. If so, check the grass seed bag to see when they say it is okay to use a weed killing fertilizer (generally 1-2 months or longer after the over seeding process). Always use a spreader or hire a professional when fertilizing and carefully follow all warnings and directions on the fertilizer container. I also suggest using gloves, changing clothes when done, wearing an old pair of closed toe shoes, and taking a shower/bath following fertilizer application.