As St. Louis begins to show signs of spring, everyone is looking forward to that lush landscape of green grass, beautiful blooms and towering trees to surround their home. But maintaining your lawn is a year-long process, so experts say you have to be willing to put in the sweat to reap the rewards. Here, they share the best springtime practices for your yard’s vegetation, from trees and plants to cool season grasses—the most common lawns in our community.
Keith Goding, The Hard Work Yard Work Company
• PUT IT TO THE TEST. After a really rough summer of high heat and a difficult winter like we’ve had, it’s a good time to test your soil using a kit from a local lawn-supply store. This entails taking a sample of the soil and sending it to a lab, which will email back results. A soil pH level of 6 to 7, or neutral, is the goal. The test also will show what minerals it needs more of, such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium, so you know what products to add to the lawn moving forward.
• BREAK IT DOWN. Missouri lawns have a high clay content in the soil, so it is important to break up that clay-like compaction with an aerator, which can be rented from your local lawn-care store.
• LET IT GROW. The next step is to overseed the lawn, especially in any thin parts of the grass.
• NOURISH IT. Spring is an opportune time to apply starter fertilizer. It helps new seed and existing seed grow, and gives that green look that everyone wants to achieve. This season also is a good time to put down pre-emergents to prevent crabgrass and dandelions.
• CUT IT DOWN TO SIZE. Be sure not to cut lawns too short—no lower than three-and-a-half inches, once every week to 10 days. The extra height will provide protection from the harsh sun for the mid- and lower-shafts of the blades. Always make sure your mower blades are sharp so they cut, rather than damage, the grass.
Michael Baumann, Baumann Tree
• STORMY SPRING. Spring storms can bring down a lot of trees, so this is a good time of year for tree reduction and branch repair. Reducing fruit trees, such as the Bradford pear, and softer woods, such as sweetgum trees, will help protect them.
• GOOD TO GROW. Pruning and deadwooding also is important to prepare the trees for the growing season.
• SPRING CLEANING. Don’t forget about pine trees, which also can be thinned out in the spring.
• EXPERT ADVICE. In most cases, contacting a professional is highly recommended when pruning or cutting trees. Professionals will have the equipment and proper training to perform these services safely and effectively.
MAINTENANCE MISTAKES TO AVOID
From The Hard Work Yard Work Company
• Applying the wrong products: ‘Diagnose’ lawn issues before putting down the ‘prescription.’
• It’s all about numbers: Avoid applying products at the wrong time, in the wrong quantity, or in the wrong combination.
• Don’t over-treat it: The lawn will become chemically dependent versus self-sustaining, and the excess chemicals can leach into the groundwater.
• Adjust the watering schedule to the weather conditions: Consistent watering throughout the growing season is essential—one inch every week, whether by hand or sprinkler system—and increase the duration of watering during exceptionally hot days.
• Keep it consistent: Lawn maintenance is a process, not an event.