Lawn Care Basics
Spring Lawn Care Tips
Spring lawn chores aren't difficult, but they do play a vital role in getting your grass on track for a healthy, productive growing season.
Tackling spring lawn care provides a just-right dose of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise—and sets your lawn on its way to season-long glory. Spring lawn chores aren’t difficult, but they do play a vital role in getting your grass on track for a healthy, productive growing season.
Here are our top spring lawn care tips:
Tune up your mower. Change the oil, air filter and spark plug. Clean the top and undercarriage, removing dirt and grass clippings-just be sure to detach the spark plug wire before working around the cutting blade. Don’t flip a gas mower over to clean underneath; simply lift one side and brush away dried grass. If dried grass has hardened, loosen with a hand trowel or putty knife. Sharpen the mower blade, and replace it if it has large nicks or gouges. It’s a good idea to keep an extra blade on hand so you always cut with a sharp edge. Last but not least, fill the fuel tank. If you prefer a hands-off approach, take your mower to the shop, though you will want to do it in late fall or winter to avoid spring crowds. Note, too, that a cold mower can be hard to start in early spring. Warm it up by placing it in the sun for an hour or two prior to starting. Enhance warming by placing a dark trash bag over the engine while it’s soaking up some rays. (Remove the bag before you start the mower, though!)
Clean up. Walk over your lawn and gather any twigs, branches or other debris that has appeared over winter. Dispose of trash, and add small twigs and leaves to your compost pile. Then, rake out dead grass. It can also go on the compost pile, unless it contains weeds.
Repair bare spots in Northern lawns. Fix bare patches in cool-season turf using Scotts® EZ Seed®. Water newly seeded areas daily for at least a week, but ideally until grass reaches mow-able height. Avoid mowing until grass is at least 2 inches tall or the same height as surrounding lawn. (Wait until late spring for Southern lawns.)
Prevent weeds in the North. For Northern lawns where crabgrass has been a problem in the past, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Halts Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food* in early spring. Follow label directions, and only use this product if no spring seeding projects are planned.
Kill weeds in the South. For weedy Southern lawns, fertilize with Scotts® Turf Builder® Bonus® S Southern Weed & Feed, which kills dollarweed and clover, plus many other weeds commonly found in the South. If you also have issues with fire ants, though, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Triple Action instead. In addition to feeding your lawn and killing stubborn weeds, it prevents and kills fire ants for up to 6 months. With both products, be sure to read and follow the directions on the label.
Feed the grass. If crabgrass wasn’t a problem, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food to Northern lawns around the time of the first mowing. This will give nourishment to plant roots for strong growth. If weeds weren’t an issue last year on your Southern lawn, feed grass with Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Lawn Food to help protect your lawn against heat and drought. With all lawn fertilizers, follow label directions carefully for best results, and don't apply additional fertilizer if you've recently applied a weed-and-feed product like one of those mentioned above.
Mow high. Adjust the mower deck to cut grass at the highest possible setting for your lawn’s type of grass. Tall grass sinks deeper roots (which can seek out moisture) and crowds out weeds. Most turf types thrive with a 3- to 4-inch blade height, which usually corresponds to a mower’s highest setting. Choose a middle setting for Zoysia grass and Centipede grass, and the lowest setting for Bermuda grass and creeping bentgrass. The rule of thumb for mowing is to remove only one-third of the total grass blade length at a time.
Edge beds. In early spring, soft soil makes edging beds a cinch. Using a sharp garden spade or half-moon edger, cut a 2- to 3-inch deep, V-shaped trench along beds to keep grass out. Maintain this edge with a string trimmer throughout the growing season, recutting only as needed. If you’re refreshing existing trench edges in spring by digging out soil or mulch that has filled the trench, toss weed-free material onto planting beds as mulch or add it to your compost pile.
Apply mulch. Wait until soil has warmed to refresh mulch for the growing season. Shredded mulch provides a polished finish to planting beds, which you’ll get when you use any variety of Scotts mulch. Scotts mulches provide vibrant year-long color and help prevent weed growth by blocking access to the sun. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer around (but not on top of) your plants.
Repair bare spots in Southern lawns. Use Scotts® EZ Seed® to seed bare patches in warm-season turf. Until it becomes high enough to mow (at least 2 inches tall), water newly seeded areas daily. Begin to mow when the new grass reaches the height of the surrounding lawn.
Overseed. Thicken a thin lawn by overseeding. If you have a cool-season grass type (Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, or tall fescue) use Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick’R Lawn™, which combines grass seed, fertilizer, and a soil improver into an easy-to-use product you apply with a spreader. If you have a warm-season grass type (bermuda, zoysia, centipede, or bahia) use the appropriate Scotts® Turf Builder® Grass Seed product for your grass type, and get your grass off to its best start by using Scotts® Turf Builder® Starter® Food for New Grass. Water newly seeded areas daily for at least the first 2 weeks.
Wipe out dandelions. Kill these pesky weeds with Scotts® Turf Builder® Weed & Feed3, which is guaranteed to clear out dandelions and clover—all while feeding your grass to build strong roots. However, if you live in the North and didn't apply crabgrass preventer in early spring, use Scotts® Turf Builder® Triple Action* instead. You'll still be killing dandelions (and other listed weeds) while feeding the lawn, but this 3-in-1 product also prevents future weeds like crabgrass.
Go after grubs. Late spring is the time that hibernating grubs in the lawn begin to crawl toward the surface to chew grass roots, before turning into beetles and flying off to find mates. It's also a great time to apply Scotts® GrubEx®to deal with the resulting new grubs that will hatch in coming weeks. Definitely treat for grubs if you had a problem last year or know that a neighbor is having a problem with grubs.
*don't apply to newly seeded areas until after the 4th mowing; wait 4 months to plants seeds after applying