I've spent the last two weekends working on the lawn. To be fair, I have also spent a decent amount of time hiking (snowshoeing actually!) and cycling. I mean, I'm not a crazy person! A man's got to have some fun. For me, escaping into the woods or out on the road is exactly what the doctor ordered (and keeps ordering!). But when those adventures were over, I was looking forward to attacking the yard and getting things cleaned up for this summer.
Everything we are going to talk about today is valuable information (IMHO), whether you are planning to sell your home or just looking forward to some quality time spent in the yard with warmer weather. Let's get raking!
Although these statistics come from the National Association of Landscape Professionals, they are still impressive. Seventy-nine percent of consumers note that the lawn is an important feature when buying or renting. And "many" consumers ranked a nicely sized yard as the second-most-important feature of a home. Second only to a renovated kitchen.
The reality is, we love our homes, but love extending our homes into outdoor livable space. Our millennial friends even ranked the lawn in front of the kitchen. I guess we know who's not cooking!
If you were reading along with us this past fall, we talked about the importance of raking up the leaves (and other debris) in the fall. This keeps the lawn healthier throughout the winter and saves you the hassle of raking semi-composted leaves this spring.
Raking is important this time of year. I just finished up the raking last weekend and what a difference! There were certainly a handful of piles of leftover leaves from the winter as well as plenty of mashed-down spots where snow had accumulated and smashed everything down. Beyond the "trouble spots" the overall lawn just looks happier and healthier. (That's right, my lawn looks happy!)
A bunch of years ago, I worked for a landscaping company down in the Portsmouth area. Every spring, we would make the rounds to the clients' homes or businesses (we serviced both) and freshen things up for the season. Aside from raking the grass, he would have us run a rake across/through the smaller shrubs and bushes. Imagine you had to wear a winter hat all day, all winter long. As soon as you were to remove that hat in the spring, can you imagine how great it would feel to have someone with long fingernails just massage and scratch your scalp? That was his logic for raking bushes and lawns in the spring, and that has stuck with me. I honestly don't even care if there's any truth to it. The lawn and shrubs look so much better, and I like to think they appreciate the massage.
One terribly unfortunate byproduct of raking the lawn and cleaning up the leaves is the grass starts to grow. I know! That's kind of what we are after, but we just quit shoveling! Now that you're going to have to drag out the lawn mower, this is the perfect time to give it a little tune-up.
I'm currently in love with my electric mower. It has battery power so there are no chords and it works very nicely. For the gas mowers, I would simply encourage you to check the oil levels, fill it full of gas (unless you used stabilizer) and change/clean the spark plug.
Beyond the motor function, the most important part of the mower is the blade. If you are handy, get out your Dremel tool and get that blade super sharp. If you are like me, you will hold off on making those first passes with the mower until there's a decent base of lawn growing. You'll want to have the blade nice and sharp for that first mow.
"I recommend not bagging your clippings for the first couple times you mow your lawn," said Badger Realty agent Brendan Battenfelder. "Those clippings are a great source of nitrogen and other nutrients for the soil."
We don't have a very luxurious lawn by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, one entire corner is nearly covered in weeds. Part of me loves that because it covers up the bare spots and makes it look green from a distance. The other part of me hates it because those weeds gum up the lawnmower and slow down the whole process.
Aside from raking and leaving those clippings, it is a really good idea to fertilize your lawn and add some weed control. You should really talk to the experts for the timing of these projects. As I recall, you are supposed to add the fertilizer in the fall, but for the weed control, I'm planning to tackle that this weekend. I'm hoping that rat's nest can be brought under control this year.
Last is the watering. I hate the idea of how much water we waste on our silly lawns every year. The experts say that daily watering is simply not good for your lawn. It can cause shallow root growth and lead to more disease. Once again, I would encourage you to speak to a local expert and get the scoop. Watering our lawns here in New Hampshire has very different requirements than other locations across the country. Talk to an expert and only water when you have to.
See you at the garden center!