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Spring lawn care


Society's passion for the home lawn began long ago and it will be a tough "habit" to break. Home lawns are both a blessing and a curse.

They're a blessing because a lush green lawn is a beautiful framework for the home and garden. They can be walked, played or sat upon and with a bit of pocket change you can hire the local youngster to do the mowing.

Lawns are a curse because we become slaves to their care. From my experience I have found that the more you fuss over the lawn, the more problems you create. Home lawns don't have to be a burden!

In early spring, the condition of the lawn will depend upon the type of winter which just past as well as how the lawn was left in the fall. Some of the common problems you may encounter are snow mold, dead patches, mole runs, grub damage and brown patches. In most cases, the damaged lawn will recover with a little bit of time and some care. Injury will take time to repair and recovery can be slow if temperatures are cool.

Raking the lawn with a leaf rake makes the lawn look better and will help you to assess the extent of any damage. Rake it only lightly, though, or you will damage the new young shoots.

Snow mold injury will be apparent as soon as the snow melts. A pink, grey or whitish mold will cover patches of the lawn in circular patterns. The mold can be easily raked away and the grass beneath will come back. Snow mold occurs more commonly on grass which has been fertilized too heavily with available nitrogen in early fall. The lush growth which occurred in the fall is more likely to suffer from snow mold injury.

Brown patches are often caused by weed grasses which are simply slower to start in the spring. Rough blue grass is a common weed grass, particularly on lawns which are over-watered. Rough blue grass is shallow rooted and can be removed by raking or pulling. Raking away the patches will open up the turf, enabling you to seed with a more desirable grass mixture. Keep in mind that whenever you open up bare patches of soil you have prepared an ideal seed bed for weed seed invasion.

Dead patches most commonly occur in low spots on the lawn and are caused by the accumulation of water and ice. The only way to solve this problem is to prevent it in future by draining the area. Surface drainage directs the flow of water away from the desirable area. You may need to build up the low spots with soil and divert the water to other regions. You will create problems in other locations unless there is a ditch or culvert into which the water can flow. You will need to seed or sod the bare patches since the grass will not recover from ice damage.

Mole runs and grub damage can be the most shocking sight of all winter injuries. Grubs overwinter in the soil and move closer to the soil surface in early spring. Moles, which feed on grubs ,will tunnel throughout the yard in search of food. Skunks and raccoons may tear up portions of the lawn to feed on the grubs beneath.

To prevent this problem in future, get rid of the grubs! Grub control treatments are most effective in late summer when the grubs are newly hatched and shallow in the soil. Grub populations vary from year to year so check with your local horticultural society or local golf course to see whether grubs are likely to be a problem in your area this summer.

The mole runs will gradually disappear from view as the grass starts to grow around them. Rolling the lawn is one way of collapsing the tunnels and preventing their use in the future by other rodents such as voles. Voles feed on vegetation and cause even more problems for the vegetable gardener!

Fertilizing the lawn in the late fall is the best way to provide the nutrients the lawn requires in early spring. If you didn't do this last year, apply a lawn fertilizer such as 24-4-8 at half the recommended rate in early spring, followed by an application at the full rate one month later. Avoid applying too much nitrogen in early spring or you will spend most of your time mowing!


Daisy Moore, 1998.



Other spring garden tips:

(click on the tip you want to read)


Designing Gardens

Fertilizing the Garden
Ready for Spring
Starting Seeds Indoors
Pruning Trees and Shrubs
Dormant Spraying
Planning the Vegetable Garden
Planting Early Vegetables
Early Season Care of Perennial Beds
Plants for an Early Spring Show
Cut Flowers for the Home Garden
Growing the Perfect Potato
Lawn Care in Early Spring.....GRUB DAMAGE!
Spring Lawn Care
The Garden in May
Gardening with Native Plants
Sources of Native Plants
Shade Gardening
Planting Gladiolus and Other Summer Flowering Bulbs
Weed Control
Thatch in Lawns
Weeds or Wildflowers
Improving Your Soil
Marvellous Mulch
Selecting and Planting Shrubs
Planting Trees and Shrubs
Window Box Gardening
Growing Tomatoes
Fertilizing the Vegetable Garden



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Daisy Moore 2005