During a normal Spring season in the Pacific Northwest rain will provide all the water your lawn needs. However, Spring is a great time to test your sprinkler system so you are ready for the warm, dry summer months. Hiring a professional to check your irrigation system annually is a great way to keep your lawn healthy. For do-it-yourselfers, you can test the uniformity of your irrigation system by placing several empty tuna cans throughout your lawn and turning on the sprinklers. Wait 15-30 minutes and compare the amount of water collected in the cans. This method will help you identify areas of the lawn that aren’t getting enough water or are getting too much. Make repairs or adjust sprinklers accordingly.
If you have really been on your game in the winter, you’ve already tuned up your lawn mower including sharpening the blades. Mow your lawn to between 1.5 and 2 inches regularly. Mowing to the full 2 inches helps prevent weeds from taking root and also helps the lawn better withstand a summer drought. Water in the soil is retained better with the shade provided by longer blades. The frequency with which you need to mow the lawn will depend on a number of factors such as frequency of fertilizer applications, average temperature, and amount of moisture. It’s best to not to remove more than 1/3 of the blade with any mowing.
Leaving the grass clippings on the lawn after mowing works to provide a fertilization method as well. Many organisms within the soil will break down the clippings to naturally feed the lawn. Care must be taken not to leave clumps of grass which can create dead spots.
Once it’s not too cold or too wet, we recommend aerating the lawn to allow air, water, and nutrients to better penetrate the soil under your lawn that may have become too compacted over the winter. You can rent an aeration tool from your local home improvement store or purchase one of the many varieties of manual tools. Aerating a lawn that is a little on the moist side allows the tools to get better penetration into the soil.
We recommend fertilization in Spring with a 15-15-15 or 21-7-14 blend to give it a head start for the growing season. We recommend a slow-release fertilizer formula in order to reduce the risk of burning the plants. Most local garden centers carry organic and non-organic fertilizer varieties and can answer questions you might have. Or feel free to contact us for more information.
Spring is also the time when the weeds in your lawn feel a renewed energy as well! As such, Spring is also the best time for Seattle and Western Washington Homeowners to get a jump on weed control by applying a pre-emergent herbicide to halt the growth of weeds before they sprout. If you are seeing that weeds are already a problem in your lawn, you may need to treat with a broad-spectrum post-emergent weed killer to spot treat individual weeds. The sooner you take action to control weeds, the less work will be required later in the year.
If you notice brown patches in different areas in your lawn later in the year, this could signal a grub infestation as the pests feed on the roots of the grass plants. By being proactive and applying a pesticide specific to grubs in early June, you can often head these pesky bugs before they get munching.
Crane Flies infect lawns during wet winters and can be handled with a preventive application of insecticide in the fall or an application in the spring after damage occurs. As with any lawn chemical, apply with close attention to instructions on the label.