Always greener: Lawn care tips

Erika Enigk

If there’s still a blanket of snow in your front yard, lawn care may be the last thing on your mind. But believe it or not, the spring thaw is on its way. To ensure green, healthy grass this summer, follow these month-by-month steps for quality lawn care.


The first step after the spring thaw is to de-thatch your lawn, says Luke Hawkins, maintenance foreman at Ground Effects Landscape in Marshfield, Mass. A lawn care company can come out to do this, or for do-it-yourselfers, de-thatching essentially is a hard raking to rip up the dead grass from the previous season.


The Cornell Cooperative Extension at Cornell (N.Y.) University offers a lawn care almanac on its website, According to that almanac, April is a good time to think about weed control. First, identify what weeds are growing, then take action. Bare spots will promote weed growth, so this may also be a good time for grass seed. The soil needs to be at least 52 degrees for grass seed to take, so be sure to wait until warm weather has set in. “You want warm days and cool nights,” Hawkins said.


Mowing is an important part of lawn care once the weather has gotten wetter and warmer. Keeping grass clipped short may be attractive, but it’s important not to go too short, Hawkins said. The Cornell Cooperative Extension almanac recommends cutting no more than one-third of the grass height with each mowing.


Irrigation is very important during the summer months. Hawkins recommends watering twice a day — once predawn and once at dusk — if allowed in your town. Of course, adjust for rain. “Too much water can kill the roots,” Hawkins said.    


Now that your lawnmower has gotten some good use, sharpen those blades to keep it cutting well for the rest of the season. If rabbits are a problem in your area, invest in some deer or coyote urine; it will deter them from entering the yard.


Start looking for problems such as grubs. If there’s a dead spot, dig out a small square about 4 inches down and look at the soil, Hawkins said. If there are grubs, treat for them immediately to prevent further damage.


Now that it’s getting cooler, it’s time to think about getting the yard ready for winter. On Labor Day, fertilize the lawn. This is also a good time to seed or sod if summer was hard on the grass, the Cornell almanac says.


Aerate the lawn to allow oxygen to get deep into the ground, Hawkins says. Also, set up a barrier to protect the lawn from snow and cold during the winter. The Cornell almanac recommends also raking or shredding leaves to prevent mold from growing.