Ugh — you look outside and notice a few (OK, let’s be honest, a lot) of brown spots in your yard. But just down the street, your neighbor’s grass is thick, dark green and lush. You silently wonder if you’re the laughingstock of the neighborhood.
Apparently, winter took it’s toll on your yard and now you’ve got to figure out how to spruce it up for spring. We consulted several lawn care pros to get the scoop on how to grow an amazing, healthy lawn this year.
1. Start fresh
Before you begin any house project, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the right tools for the job — and that you can actually get to them. Clear up space in your shed by putting your snowblower, snow shovels, sidewalk salt and snow tires into storage with help from Closetbox. Since you’re too busy working in the yard to rent a moving truck, load up your belongings and track down a self-storage unit, let the experts at Closetbox do all the work for you.
All you have to do is schedule a pick-up time and they’ll arrive at your home to whisk away your cold-weather equipment. You can feel secure, because storage movers with Closetbox are licensed, bonded and insured. They’ll store your belongings in a secure, private vault that’s monitored 24/7. When Old Man Winter rolls around later this year, they’ll return your items so you’re ready to go.
2. Go artificial
If you live in an area where water is scarce or if you just want a super low-maintenance yard, consider replacing your living lawn with artificial grass. Sure, artificial grass may conjure up images of football fields and putt-putt golf courses, but the technology has actually come a long way.
“Artificial grass has a bit of a negative connotation for many, however, it is so much better than it used to be,” says Derek Hales, the Phoenix-based founder and editor-in-chief of Modern Castle. “An artificial lawn looks beautiful all year long, requires zero water, and virtually zero maintenance. My wife and I had an artificial lawn installed about two years ago and we absolutely love it.”
3. Bring in some rocks
Remember: Your yard doesn’t need to be entirely green. Considering incorporating some red, brown, copper and grey hues with rocks and pavers. Plus, they’re also super low-maintenance.
“Landscaping rocks come in a variety of colors and sizes and, unlike mulch, they don’t break down — at least not for thousands of years,” Hales says.
4. Overseed your lawn
If you have kids or pets who run around on your grass all summer long, you may find a few bald spots in your yard. The solution? Overseed your yard.
“Overseeding is simply adding grass seed to your lawn during seasonal swings where the grass is thin or brown — or both,” Hales says. “This will help to fill in those bare spots, revive your lawn, crowd out weeds, and improve your lawn’s overall tolerance.”
5. Get to know your equipment
Before you start revving up the power tools and heavy-duty lawn equipment, familiarize yourself with what you’ll be using. You’ll also want to register any new pieces of equipment so that you’ll be notified of any recalls.
“Know how to use the built-in safety mechanisms, and be sure to unplug your electric equipment when not in use to avoid accidents,” says Caitlin Hoff, health and safety investigator for ConsumerSafety.org.
Remember, too, to keep an eye on any young children or pets who might be running around while you work. If your children are going to be helping you in the yard, check any chemicals you’ll be using for potentially toxic ingredients, Hoff says. Also be sure your children are wearing sunscreen, long sleeves, pants, thick gloves and any other safety attire that’s appropriate for the job.
6. Let it breathe
Have you noticed those little brown plugs in your neighbor’s yard lately? That’s the result of aeration, which essentially gives the grass some breathing room.
It’s a good idea to rent an aerator or hire someone to aerate your lawn in the spring – it’s a fairly inexpensive service that can really help your grass thrive. Plus, shortly after aerating is the perfect time to fertilize — all of the nutrients can work their way into the soil via the holes you’ve created.
“The purpose is to allow air and nutrients to get into the soil under the lawn, which helps the roots of your lawn get stronger,” says John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada.
7. Start with the soil
Think of soil as your lawn’s foundation — happy dirt means happy grass, says Rhianna Miller, a home and garden design expert with Rubber Mulch.
She suggests checking your soil’s acidity and add a mix of loam and compost, which will help address any pH problems. Your local government, extension office or nursery can also help you understand common soil problems in your area — and how to solve them.
8. Be savvy with your mower
If you hate mowing the lawn, you might be inclined to set your mower to the lowest possible setting so you cut the grass super short. You’ll have to mow less often, right?
Maybe. But you’ll also be harming your lawn in the process, Miller says.
“This stresses out the grass and dries it out faster,” she says. “To promote better root growth, just trim the top third of the grass.”
9. Strategically banish weeds
As frustrating as this might sound, the best way to get rid of weeds in your yard is to have the healthiest grass possible. When your grass is thick and lush, there’s simply no room for weeds to crowd their way in. If you need to, consider a natural herbicide – you can even make your own with household ingredients.
10. Consider alternatives
For an area of your yard that doesn’t see a lot of foot traffic (think the corners and areas right next to the fence), consider planting ground cover instead of grass, suggests Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza, editorial manager at House Method.
She recommends blue rug juniper, a drought-tolerant shrub that looks like a green carpet. But remember: ground cover provides the perfect hideout for snakes, so if you’re deathly afraid of slithering creatures, you may want to steer clear.