Tips for working on your lawn this spring

AMES — After a long, snowy winter, this week’s warm weather has many Iowans leaping at the chance to get into their yards and start beautifying and landscaping for the seasons ahead.

Adam Thoms, a turfgrass specialist at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, says it’s probably still a little early for mowing our lawns, but when that time comes, he suggests you don’t sharpen the mower blade first thing. “There’s a lot of debris in yards from the winter, whether it be rocks, if you had a gravel driveway and you moved snow, or twigs that have fallen over the winter,” Thoms says, “so if you spend the time sharpening your mower blades, you’re just going to go out and dull them up on that first mow, so just mow with it the first time and then sharpen them up.”

The home improvement stores are stockpiling pallets of weed-and-seed products, and Thoms says now is an ideal time to start spreading those tiny pellets. “Crabgrass is going to be germinating here in the next two to three weeks, especially with the warm weather we’re having,” Thoms says, “so we’d like to see you put that out here by the end of this week or by at least early part of May, at the latest.”

Creeping Charlie, or ground ivy, is one of the hardest weeds to control in Iowa. Thoms says he gets calls about it almost daily, and there -is- a chemical out there that can kill Creeping Charlie. The problem is, now is not the best time to try. “It’s going to be two to three weeks where you could start to try to get after it,” Thoms says. “Typically, you get best control if you wait until the fall. You’re going to want to try to treat it with something that contains a lot of Triclopyr in it. That seems to be what controls Creeping Charlie the best.”

There may be a few dead spots in your yard where you need to plant new grass, and there are a variety of turf-building products on the market, but again, Thoms says the ideal season to do that is in several months. “Springtime is not the best time to seed your yard, and a lot of people think it is,” Thoms says. “So we typically say wait on that until the fall. That’s the best time to seed your yard.”

When it comes time to start mowing your lawn, he suggests the ideal cutting height is between three and three-and-a-half inches, and he recommends you never remove more than a-third of the leaf blade.

Find more spring lawn care tips, here: