After spending the chilly winter months in dormancy, grass awakens in the spring in need of some tender loving care, including a good mowing. Delivering care at the right time and in the proper way is crucial for preparing grass for the intensity of the summer growing season, when the temperatures rise and the sun takes its toll.
When to Mow
Mowing the lawn in spring isn’t about waiting until a specific date but requires monitoring the length of grass and waiting for it to reach the right height. To avoid injuring grass by cutting when it’s too short, which also renders it prone to disease, the Weekend Gardener website recommends waiting until it’s at least 2 inches tall. Doing so protects the roots of grass, as will never removing more than a third of its length in a single mowing.
Just as a good spring mowing is important to lawns, proper fertilization at this time of year is also key. After winter, grass needs a boost of nutrients, so fertilize in early spring, from February to April, to bolster root health and provide the lawn with the energy needed for the upcoming growing season. In late spring, from May to June, grass growth kicks into high gear, so another dose of fertilizer will keep it nourished.
Proper timing of lawn watering in the spring helps grass grow strong. Instead of rushing out with the hose, Iowa State University suggests waiting until the heat slightly wilts grass. Waiting for this to happen sends a signal to the grass’s roots, instructing them to grow deeper to endure a dry spell, which continues to help the lawn as temperatures continue rising. When it is time to water, do so deeply, but infrequently, giving grass roughly an inch of water weekly.
Spring deadspot is easily recognizable by the tan, circular patches it leaves on infected lawns after winter and should be looked for. Two years can pass before the fungal disease is noticeable, during which time it remains concealed in thatch. To prevent the disease, remove thatch, preventing it from becoming more than half an inch thick. Lawns should also be watered regularly to keep them hydrated in summer, and using a low-nitrogen fertilizer in autumn helps grass defend itself from the disease in winter.