In spring, gardening starts up again – including lawn care. Our guide tells you what’s necessary for beneficial spring lawn treatment.
In gardening terms, spring means a new year. When it starts to get warmer, you know it’s time to start your spring grass care schedule again – after all, that long snooze through the cold season means your lawn is hungry! But before you can fertilise it, it needs tidying up. That means raking to gather up all the leaves and broken twigs that have accrued on the lawn since it was last cleared. The amount of care you need to put into spring lawn maintenance also depends on its condition: is there moss and thatch? Does it contain a lot of dead grass? If so, it may not be enough to just mow your garden before the spring lawn feed – you may also need to scarify it.
The first step to achieving a healthy lawn is clearing it thoroughly as part of your spring lawn preperation. Any leaves and twigs can be removed with a rake – or to take care of the job in no time, a STIHL leaf vacuum may be helpful here. Repair any lawn damage caused by cold weather, fertilise the lawn, and renew bare patches by overseeding for new growth.
Once you’ve got the twigs and leaves out of the way, the next step is smoothing out any uneven ground – a straightforward spring lawn care task that just needs a shovel or a rake. Break up the soil on higher areas and spread it across the lawn; grass will grow through the bare patches again within a few weeks, or you can overseed the patches for new grass, to be on the safe side.
The next spring lawn care job is to loosen the soil where necessary to prepare the lawn for mowing. The grass needs to be completely dry before you mow it, so if you see persistent standing water in places, it’s particularly important to loosen the compacted soil in those spots so that the water can drain away – just drive a fork into the ground a few times and move it around.
If you did not consistently mulch your lawn throughout the previous year, it is likely to be suffering from a lack of nutrients and so will benefit from a spring lawn feed. Fertilisation in spring is part of good lawn care, and helps the grass to grow strong, healthy and green. It’s generally sufficient to fertilise the lawn twice a year – once in spring and once in late summer, though you may also opt for an additional round of fertilisation between those feeds, perhaps in June. Organic and mineral fertilisers are available in liquid, granular and soluble form from any garden care centre or DIY store, and you will even find special spring fertilisers which are formulated to help the grass regenerate early and to strengthen its weakened roots. This is also a great time to overseed any patchy lawns, as the fertiliser will support the new grass once it germinates – though we would recommend aerating and/or scarifying first for best results.
Moss is an indicator plant for nitrogen levels, so it will spread quickly through your lawn if the soil is short of this nutrient in particular. Well-fertilised lawns suppress moss by means of vigorous grass growth, which is why including a spring feed in your lawn care schedule is a great long-term method for controlling moss. However, if you’re dealing with a lawn that has been neglected to the point that the moss has almost completely overtaken the grass, the first stage of spring lawn treatment is to tackle the moss by scarifying the lawn, and then to start fertilising it regularly.
As soon as conditions get warmer and the soil has reached around 10°C, you should start the spring lawn care schedule of mowing the lawn at least once a week, though we recommend mowing twice a week during peak growth periods. It needs its first cut of the year now, to promote dense growth. Mid-March to mid-April is generally the best time to give the lawn its first cut – though a mild winter could mean the lawn needs mowing earlier in the year.
The spring lawn is in a growing phase again and your garden is dry; the next lawn care step is to make the first cut, known as the cleaning cut.
Make lawn care simple by mowing and feeding your lawn in one go, using a STIHL mulch mower. These shred the grass clippings into small particles which are distributed across the lawn as you work, functioning as a natural green fertiliser. The nitrogen in the clippings is mineralised in the soil, which keeps your lawn nourished and happy.
Mulch mowing is a natural lawn care method. Find out what you need to know in our mulching post.
Scarifying is simply the process of using a tool to clear matted grass and moss from the surface of your lawn, exposing the soil to improve growth. Whether you should include scarifying in your lawn care depends on your lawn’s condition. To check, pull a small metal rake gently through the turf before you start your spring lawn care: if it picks up old grass clippings, weeds or moss, this may indicate inhibited lawn growth. This is particularly common in heavy soils that are low in oxygen and become easily waterlogged; shade can also have a negative impact on the structure of your lawn. Scarifiers with blades do a great job, or you can achieve similar results by putting some effort into careful raking of your lawn.
You may wish to add a liming step to your lawn care list in spring, to help avoid moss and matting the next year by adjusting the pH of your soil. You can buy a simple soil test to confirm your exact conditions; for grass, it should ideally be at a pH value of 6.0 to 7.0, with a lower value indicating acidity. Adding lime helps to alkalise the soil and regulate pH for the longer term, deterring moss and other lawn weeds in the process. Because lawn soils tend to become more acidic over time, applying lime annually in spring can be a valuable lawn care supplement until levels balance – after which it can be reduced to every few seasons. Mow and scarify first, then after applying lime you should let the grass rest for at least a week.