Changing temperatures across Colorado mean spring fever has come early for many homeowners. But drastic temperature swings can be hard on your yard. Jacob Palmer offers 7 tips to revive your lawn in time for spring.
Revive your Yard in time for Spring
Colorado winters are harsh on lawns. Snow, ice, wind, and salt can take a toll on your turf. Once spring arrives, it’s time to survey the damage and get everything cleaned up. Especially if you plan to put your home on the market this year. A well-groomed lawn can easily add curb appeal to your home. Here’s a list of tips to help your lawn come out of dormancy and revive it after the winter.
1. Fertilize That Lawn
Fertilizing in the spring provides your grass with essential nutrients. It encourages it to grow, promotes root growth, and wakes it up from winter faster. Use a slow release fertilizer that contains high nitrogen but low phosphorus level. Done right, your grass should be set until summer.
2. Water Your Grass
Colorado’s arid climate requires us to water our yards at least twice a week. About an inch is good. Do not overwater! Too much water will damage the struggling grass that’s trying to come out of dormancy. It’s more important to water less and deeply, so the roots get the moisture they need. Water in the morning before the sun is at its zenith.
3. Apply Pre-Emergent Herbicide
Weeds and lawns go hand in hand. It’s a never-ending battle. That’s why it’s vital to nip the problem in the bud by applying pre-emergent weed killer in the spring. In the fall, weeds release their seeds. These seeds scatter in the wind and bury themselves in your grass where they wait for spring and germinate. Pre-emergent herbicides will prevent these seeds from growing so your lawn won’t have to compete with the weeds for moisture.
4. Replace Dead Grass
It’s inevitable that your lawn will receive some damage. There are too many forces at work. First, rake any brown spots to loosen up thatch and dry it out. Then apply some grass seeds and cover it with a light fertilizer. Water it regularly until the patch has filled in. Be sure to use the same kind of grass as the rest of your yard or you’ll have another eye-sore on your hands.
5. Aerate Your Lawn
Soil compaction is a natural occurrence in lawns, especially if your yard gets a lot of foot traffic. Layers of thatch from lawn mowing can also compound the problem by depriving the soil of moisture. When the soil compacts, roots can’t get water or nutrients. Compaction also makes it impossible for the fertilizer to do much good. It’s best to aerate in the fall, but if you didn’t, it’s important to do it now. You can rent an aerator at your local lawn and garden store or you can hire a professional. An aerator will punch holes into your lawn to allow water and air to flow in. You’ll see a drastic difference in lushness and appearance after a good aeration.
6. The Garden
Reviving your garden goes hand in hand with reviving your lawn. You want to pull any dead or dying plants that didn’t survive the winter, as well as the weeds that did. (Unfortunately, the weeds usually survive and thrive over the winter.) Turn the top six inches of soil with a rake or hoe and mix in some compost or fertilizer. You want to add the compost a few weeks before adding any plants or seeds to give the soil time to absorb the nutrients.
7. Make a Plan
Decide what to plant first. We recommend native plants that will thrive in Colorado without too much water. Plants like smooth sumac or creeping mahonia will bloom in the spring and withstand the cold in most of the state.
Don’t ignore your front yard. If you don’t have a garden in front, consider adorning the walkway or edge of the driveway with flowering shrubs. A marmalade of snow bush will offer bright flowers in the spring and summer and stay green through the winter. Prepare the soil as you would for your garden and plant the shrubs after the soil has time to soak in the nutrients.
If you follow these steps, your garden and grass will recover from winter damage and thrive during the summer.
Jacob Palmer is a gardening and landscape design writer. When mowing lawns on his street as a child, he discovered a lifelong passion for landscape design. He now has three children who can all be found helping him most weekends with his next big garden project.
Originally published November 2, 2017 — Updated April 30, 2020