Many of us wait for spring to come around before we start to take care of or even think about our lawns. But there are things you can do ahead of time to prep your lawn for the warmer season, according to Michigan State University Professor and Turf Extension Specialist Kevin Frank. He says there are a number of ways to get started on your grass sooner than later to ensure a healthy growing season.

Rake away debris and dead grass

Rain, wind, snow, road salt and even pets can damage your lawn and cause the grass to look dead and matted down. It can also bring all kinds of unwanted debris to your lawn. The best thing to do is to grab a leaf rake and lightly rake some of the leaves, dead grass and debris off the turf. “This will help warm the soil faster, and you can get growth resuming in some of those areas,” says Frank. Additionally, you can pick up any bigger twigs and branches that appeared on your lawn over the winter.

Apply crabgrass pre-emergent

For lawns that have a crabgrass problem, apply a preventer in early spring to ensure that crabgrass doesn’t take over your lawn. However, if you’re going to do any seeding in the spring, don’t put down a pre-emergent herbicide because that will also prevent the seed that you planted from growing and establishing. “That’s a mistake a lot of people make,” says Frank. If you’re in a more southern state, use weedkillers that target things like dollarweed, dandelion, clover and yellow nutsedge. Preventers, pre-emergents and weedkillers should be used during specific periods of your yard’s early, middle, and late-growing seasons for best results.

Repair bare spots


Some areas of your lawn may have bare spots. If they’re smaller, like the size of a golf ball, you may not need to seed it. “The turf tends to naturally grow over it in the spring and creep over that part of the damage,” says Frank. But, if you have more of a basketball-sized patch that is dead and not recovering, you’ll probably have to add seed to that spot to regrow it. You can reseed in early spring because even if the weather is cooler and it takes longer to grow, the seed won't go bad. Just scratch up the soil a bit, add seed and incorporate it into the soil.


Use fertilizer

“The best time to add fertilizer is when the turf is fully green and grown enough that mowing is necessary,” says Frank. Soils that are still very cold may not absorb nutrients like they need to. If you are living in a hot-weather state, use less fertilizer. Because fertilizer promotes growth, it causes the grass to consume more energy in the heat, which may add more stress on your lawn.

Tune your mower

If you’re planning on starting your lawn care in early spring, don’t forget to tune up your lawn mower to make sure it’s in perfect working order. This includes changing the air filter, checking the gas and oil, sharpening the blade, lubricating wheel bearings and other moving parts as well as cleaning the mower to get rid of grass clippings, leaves and other debris. The last thing you want is a lawn mower that’s not functioning properly when you need it most.

Mow high

When you’re mowing your lawn, don’t set it to the lowest height. Tall grass sinks deeper roots and can crowd out weeds. “Sometimes people in the spring think they need to lower the mowing height to try to stimulate growth on their lawns,” says Frank. “I generally stick with the adage of if you mow three inches high, mow it three inches all year. Don't worry about chasing it down and raising it back up.” If you’re in a sunnier region, mowing at higher heights helps promote deeper roots which can help the turf survive hot, dry summer weather.

Whatever your goals for your lawn this year, it’s never too early to get started. So whether you have all you need in the shed or garage or have to hit the local gardening store for some supplies, make a plan now about what you need to take care of in early spring. Your preparation will be worth it when you have a beautiful lawn all summer long.

From time to time, Meritage Homes makes available articles and information that it believes may be of intertest to the reader. Any information contained in these articles has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, but the accuracy of such information is not guaranteed and Meritage Homes disclaims any responsibility for such information. The views of the respective authors or persons quoted in such articles, whether or not specific attribution is made herein, are those of such person(s) and do not necessarily represent those of Meritage Homes, which accepts no responsibility for such views. The mention of specific products and/or services in any article does not constitute an endorsement or approval of such products and/or services by Meritage Homes, and such products and/or services may not be available with respect to every, or any, Meritage home. Visit for information and disclaimers about energy-efficient features and associated claims pertaining to Meritage homes. All material in these articles is copyrighted and no part may be reproduced, in whole or in part, without written permission of the copyright holder. Meritage Homes®, Life. Built. Better.®, and Setting the standard for energy-efficient homes® are trademarks of Meritage Homes Corporation. ©2021 Meritage Homes Corporation. All rights are reserved.