It's that time of year again ... I'm paying homage to the lawn. Every year the one task that seems to require the most time and energy in the garden is the lawn. Not only does it require a lengthy Spring maintenance routine, but the incessant mowing and watering and fertilizing to get just a good lawn is enough to exhaust any gardener. Over the years I have removed most of the lawn in favor of mixed borders. But, I have left the lawn in the back garden. Afterall, one must have some grass, right?! However, even this small area requires a good days work to get it going for the season.
above. The lawn in Spring after spring maintenance.
Spring lawn maintenance requires timing with the weather. Start too early and you'll end up pulling up patches of grass from the sodden soil. Wait to long and you'll end up with weeds and scrappy grass. In my Zone 5 garden, the lawn maintenance routine starts when the soil has warmed and dried out (usually after a week or so in the 50's). My Spring lawn maintenance program goes like this --
1. Mow the lawn to pick up left over leaves (there were plenty this Spring due to the very early Winter 2014 that never seemed to end). This is much faster and easier than raking and bagging leaves. Also, there's a bonus, the mower shreds the leaves which can then be used as a mulch in other areas of the garden.
2. Now for the exercise ... Rake the lawn to remove any remaining debris and to dethatch the lawn. Make sure the ground is not sodden and the grass has taken hold of the soil or you will rake out patches of your lawn. The first year I did this in March and ended up replacing sections of the lawn that came out at the roots. This task seems to take forever and I end up with 3-4 bags of thatch. It's hard to believe that so much thatch could come out of the lawn.
3. Edge the lawn. A good edge sets of the lawn, is visually appealing, and provides instant gratification. In addition, it makes edging easier when the lawn takes off running.
4. Mow the lawn again. This time I set the mower on the lowest setting and us it like a vacuum to pick up any remaining debris left on top of the lawn that I missed when raking. You'll be surprised at how much comes up with the mower.
5. Patch the lawn. Fill in any bare spots with a mixture of grass seed, peat moss, and GOOD top soil.
6. Water the lawn for a short period of time. I usually leave the sprinkler run for about 30 minutes to freshen the lawn.
7. Apply the fertilizer. I use a fertilizer with Crab grass preventor. Just follow the directions on the bag so you don't over fertilize or burn your lawn.
8. Sweep the walks clean. More instant gratification ... use a blower.
9. Pour a glass of wine, stand back and enjoy!
above. The lawn in late Spring.