Spring Lawn Rejuvenation and Moss Control
When there is no standing water on your lawn, and the soil not saturated, the time is right for spring lawn rejuvenation.
If moss is not an issue, but thatch buildup and weeds are, now is the time to rent a de-thatcher, rake out the lawn, aerate compacted areas, fill in low spots with soil and overseed. Fertilize with a well-balanced spring lawn-food to encourage both new and established grasses.
If moss is taking over your lawn, early spring is an excellent time to eradicate it.
The most common conditions that lead to moss problems are a lack of soil fertility, acid soil, dense shade, compacted soil, wet soil, and injured turf.
Fertility: A lawn that doesn’t receive enough nitrogen favors moss. You can solve this problem by applying fertilizer in the right amounts at the right time. A spring, summer and fall application is recommended.
Acid soils: Lawns don’t grow well in acid soils. You can improve the health of your lawn by liming if your soil is acid. Ideally, soil for a lawn has a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Lime does not kill moss, but encourages a healthy vigorous lawn
Shade: In dense shade grass does not get enough light to grow well. If your moss problem occurs in the shade of a tree, you can prune or remove trees to make the area less shady. If you like the shade, or if your problem spot is in the shade of your house, you have several options. You can try a shade-tolerant grass seed, shade tolerant ground covers or cover the area with landscape fabric and mulch or stones.
Compacted soil: Grass roots have trouble growing in compacted soil, making the grass less able to compete with moss. Aerating your lawn and then top-dressing with sand, peat, soil or compost each spring can help.
Wet soil: If your soil doesn’t drain properly, or if you water your lawn too much, the wet soil provides a “perfect environment” for moss to germinate and grow. Thatch removal (with a thatching rake or a vertical mower) removes dead grass that can hold water. You may also need to raise the ground level of low spots. Be sure that your lawn slopes away from your house, so that water doesn’t form puddles near your house.
Injured turf: If your turf has been injured by insects, diseases, chemicals, or lawn care practices, mosses may find it easy to encroach. Water your lawn deeply, but not too often, when you haven’t received enough rain. Severe thatch removal in the fall can also cause thin turf.
5 STEPS TO SPRING LAWN RENOVATION
Step 1: Get rid of that moss. Moss killers are available in liquid and granular forms. Use a product suited to your needs, wait until the moss turns black, and then rake it out. Trying to remove living moss from the lawn by raking just spreads it into areas where no moss previously existed, thereby compounding your problem.
Step 2: Once the dead moss is removed, either by raking or using a dethatcher, the next step is to aerate the soil. Aerating removes small plugs from the lawn, after which you would top dress with ½ inch of sand or new, light soil to encourage better drainage and good lawn root development.
Step 3: Remove weeds either by hand or with a liquid weed killer for broadleaf lawn weeds (Weed B Gon is a good alternative to chemical weed killers, it’s a natural iron based product safe for pets and children once it dries) and overseed bare patches with new lawn seed to discourage weeds from returning. Don’t start too early, seed will not germinate in cold soil, and the moss or the weeds will just grow back
Step 4: If you have done a ph test on your soil and find that it is not sweet enough, now would be the time to apply lime. Moss thrives in moist, acidic conditions, so sweeter soils discourage growth. Sweeter soils also make nutrients already in the soil more available to the grass. Spread dolomite lime according to manufacturers recommendations and water in well.
Step 5: 7 to 10 days after applying lime, fertilize with a good lawn food. . A slow release feed in spring, another in mid-summer and finally an application of fall and winter feeder September October or November should ensure that next year your lawn rejuvenation tasks are much easier.
Follow correct watering techniques during dry spells, and do not cut the lawn too short. (cut little and often) Use a mulching mower and let the grass clippings fall. Applications of about ½ inch to one inch of water twice a week helps to build a deep root system that can withstand some drought. Note that the water should penetrate to about 6 inches when you water. In areas of water restrictions, allow grass to go ‘dormant’ in the summer, it saves cutting, conserves a large amount of water, and it will green up again when the rains come.