During the cooler winter months in Florida, lawn care might be the last thing on your mind. But did you know that there are things you can do right now to help your survive and thrive during the spring and summer months? Here are 7 ways to prepare your lawn Spring.
1. Clean up any fall and winter debris. This includes leaves, stones, sticks, tree limbs, and pine needles.
2. Cut your grass. Cut it short and collect the clippings to use as mulch in other areas of your yard.
3. Dethatch your lawn (if you didn’t do it in the fall). Dethatching is the process of removing the layer of stems and roots that have not decomposed and have accumulated near the soil surface between the actively growing grass and the soil. To find out if you have a layer of thatch, dig up a small, triangular shaped piece of your lawn several inches deep. If the spongy layer above the soil is more than ¾ to 1 inch thick when you compress it, you probably need to dethatch your lawn.
If you have a small lawn or if the thatch is less than 1 inch thick, you can dethatch with a rake. Doing it manually like this causes the least amount of stress on the lawn. A regular rake with hard tines probably won’t be able to effectively pull up the thatch, so a dethatching rake that has sharpened tines will work better. Use the same motion as you would use with a regular rake. Allow the tines to really dig in to the thatch and pull it upward to loosen it and lift it away. You should be able to see it separating from the soil.
Another way to dethatch your lawn is by renting a tool called a vertical cutter, verticutter, or power rake. It has vertical blades or wire tines that slice through the thatch and lift it from the soil. The rental agency can advise you on how to set the blades to the correct spacing and how deep to cut into the soil based on your grass type.
A third option is to hire a professional lawn service. You can cut costs by having them only do the dethatching and take care of the follow up tasks (such as cleanup and reseeding) yourself.
4. Aerate Your Lawn. The aerator cuts small plugs into your lawn that helps prevent thatch buildup and provides a way for air, water, nutrients, and new seeds to penetrate the soil.
5. Add nutrients. Add nutrients such as peat moss to enrich and loosen the soil.
6. Rake the soil. Break up the soil on any bare spots to a depth of around 2 inches.
7. Identify problem weed areas and spray them with an herbicide. If you are doing this yourself, make sure to wear gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, rubber boots, and any other safety gear that is recommended by the herbicide manufacturer. Wash out all of your clothing afterward.