Spring is a great time to give your lawn a shot in the arm to keep it looking healthy and green through the summer. Lawn varieties that go dormant in the winter such as Bermuda and St. Augustine will begin to green up. Fescue turf will begin to grow more aggressively and have improved color with the warmer weather.
You may have turned your sprinklers off or decreased irrigation times to save water in the winter. As the weather warms, gradually increase irrigation times. The goal is to meet the needs of the grass plant through less frequent, deeper irrigation. Water three times per week for longer periods rather than daily for shorter periods. If you see water run-off from slopes or water running down your gutter during/after irrigation, try aerating your lawn. If aeration does not solve the problem, the best solution for run-off is to apply shorter, more frequent irrigation cycles.
Different grass types need different amounts of water. For instance, Cool Season grasses such as Fescue will take approximately 30% more irrigation in the spring, summer and fall than Warm Season grasses such as St. Augustine or Hybrid Bermudagrass. During winter, Warm season grasses don’t require any irrigation at all since they go into dormancy.
Spring is a great time to test and repair your sprinkler system before the weather gets hot. Check for pipes or heads that may have become damaged during the winter. If you see dry spots, measure the uniformity of your irrigation system by placing shallow containers such as tuna cans in several spots in your yard. Run each station for 20-30 minutes and measure the difference in water in each container. If the difference is more than 30-40%, you should work to improve irrigation uniformity. This is not always a simple process so we recommend you work with an irrigation contractor or local garden center to improve uniformity with changes to nozzles or sprinkler head spacing. The goal is to have “head to head” coverage, even spacing of irrigation heads, and the same type of irrigation heads/nozzles for each zone.
It is best to only remove no more than 1/3 of the grass blade with each mowing to avoid shocking the plant. Mowing your lawn too short reduces its ability to develop deep root systems and reduces the overall health of the grass. Taller grasses shade out weeds to prohibit their growth and also use water more efficiently. Spring is also a good time to sharpen the mower blades from optimal cutting. Mow Fescue at 2-3 inches. Hybrid Bermuda mow at ¾ to 1 inch. St. Augustine, mow at 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches.
Whether or not your grass goes into dormancy in the winter, spring is the beginning of the growth season for your grass. This is the time to start a regular fertilization regimen that repeats every 8 to 10 weeks through the fall. Use a balanced fertilizer such as a 15-15-15 or 21-7-14 blend. Your local garden center will have a variety of products that fit this description.
Spring is also the time when the weeds in your lawn feel a renewed energy as well! Use a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring to prevent grassy weeds from sprouting in the first place. If dandelions or other broadleaf weeds appear, you can either pull them by hand, spray them individually by hand with a spray bottle, spray your whole lawn with a hose-end sprayer, or some fertilizers include a broadleaf weed treatment in them. In all cases, read the instructions carefully or the effectiveness of the application can be greatly reduced.