Spring Lawn Care Advice

Here are a few tips to ensure your customers' lawns are in tiptop shape this spring.

Spring Lawn Care Tips
Sod Solutions

With the first day of spring approaching, warmer weather signals plants to come out of dormancy and start flourishing again. The time for spring lawn care tips is right around the corner. Pretty soon, in warm-season lawns, turfgrass will come out of dormancy, and in cool-season lawns, snow will start to melt.

Here are a few tips to ensure your customers' lawns are in tiptop shape this spring. 

1. Begin mowing lawns at the proper height again

The timing for which the first mow of the spring for your mature, established turfgrass widely varies depending on the area you live in. Grasses come out of dormancy differently depending on the environment and temperatures your area encounters.

For example, in South Florida, grass may have never entered dormancy at all during the winter. Many homeowners who live in South Florida will mow their lawn every other week during the winter—oftentimes starting in September and resuming a regular, weekly mowing schedule again in mid-March.

Generally speaking, however, mid-March is about the time to begin the regimen for spring green-up and mowing. It’s important to note that the first mow of the spring shouldn’t take place while warm-season grass is dormant.

Mowing heights vary for each grass type, but you should never remove more than a third of the leaf blade from any grass type. If you mow less than this, you may risk scalping the grass. 

Lastly, make sure mower blades are sharpened so that the mower blades neatly slice through the grass in place of ripping them. If the grass blades aren’t cut neatly, the mower is ripping them and opens the grass up to the possibility of disease.

Performing regular maintenance on the mower is good practice for the end of the mowing season or before spring takes place.

2. Use the appropriate amount of spring fertilizer

Spring is one of the most important times of the year to use fertilizer. Warm-season grasses are coming out of dormancy, so you will want to promote healthy roots and the return of green leaf blades.

Be careful when making the first fertilizer application of the year though—some people grass green up and immediately pull out the fertilizer and mower. We advise that you typically wait until the last frost has hit.

If you fertilize a lawn and another frost hits, grass will go right back into dormancy, and you’ll have a harder time getting it to green up again. This does more harm than good.

With that being said, the date of the last frost varies from location to location. In the Florida Panhandle, for example, grass doesn’t ever go truly dormant and reaches its full green-up in early February (depending on how cold the winter was).

Even then, you won’t want to apply fertilizer until after Easter once the last frost has passed.

Next, it is important to mention that in warm-season lawns, you may start to notice spots of brown or strawlike grass while the rest of the lawn comes out of dormancy. This is usually a sign of disease. You do not want to apply fertilizer to a lawn with disease as the nitrogen in the fertilizer will feed the disease and promote its growth. Apply a systemic fungicide first and then wait several weeks before following with a fertilizer application.

3. Set up a spring irrigation schedule

Dormant, warm-season turfgrass doesn’t need much water until the active growing season kicks in and grass starts to green up. Remember that dormant, warm-season lawns are not dead—they're just “sleeping”.

Although dormant grass requires much less water than it would while it is actively growing, it will still need water. Once grass starts to green up from winter dormancy, resume watering the lawn with about 1 inch of water per week including rainfall.

If you aren’t sure how to measure how much water a lawn is receiving, an irrigation audit may be beneficial to you. Irrigation audits provide measurable information about how much water each area of the lawn is receiving within a given amount of time.

4. Think about spring lawn treatments

The next few tips in this article discuss spring lawn treatment with fungicides, herbicides or insecticides. If any of these control products or fertilizers are granular, you will need to water the product in so that the lawn absorbs it.

When watering granular products in, you will already be watering your customers'  lawn with the appropriate amount of water during the week of application.The same can be said with any liquid products as they are either products that attach to the end of your garden hose or require tank mixing with water. 

Above all, read and follow label instructions thoroughly before watering any products in.

Pre- or Postemergent Herbicide

Preemergents should be applied during the spring when ground temperatures reach about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A preemergent herbicide functions to prevent weeds from emerging from the surface of the soil, as its name suggests.

The exact dates for these applications differ depending on the area you live in, but generally speaking, preemergents should be applied between the beginning and middle of March in the spring.

Apply postemergent herbicides throughout the spring as needed to control summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds like crabgrass, goosegrass, sandspurs, dallisgrass, dandelion, chickweed, white clover, knotweed, spurge, dollarweed, doveweed and lespedeza.


If a lawn has suffered from insect damage around this time in the past, it is a good idea to apply a broad spectrum insecticide at this time to prevent them from coming back again.

If the insecticide is a granular product, be sure to water it in so that it soaks into your soil. On the other hand, if it’s a liquid product, attach it to the end of your garden hose or tank mix it.

Some of the most common of insects in the springtime are white grub worms, chinch bugs, sod webworms and billbugs. White grub worms can be found in most turfgrasses at this time, while chinch bugs are more likely to be spotted in St. Augustinegrass, sod webworms in bermudagrass and billbugs in zoysiagrass.

Sod webworms are typically more of a summer or fall pest, however, they can still cause a significant and costly nuisance to lawns located throughout the Southern regions of the U.S. during the spring season.

5. Prevent disease as temperatures warm up

As previously mentioned, if you have a warm season lawn, circular brown or yellow spots, also known as spring dead spot, may start to show up as it comes out of dormancy. Other potential disease outbreaks include brown patch and gray leaf spot.

If you notice any disease outbreaks, you may need to make applications of a systemic fungicide. Even if there's not disease in a lawn, it’s still good practice to apply it preventively to keep disease from taking over—especially if your customers have had disease in the past around this time.

Systemic fungicide applications should take place before you apply any spring fertilizer. If there is fungus in a lawn, the nitrogen found in fertilizers oftentimes feeds it and helps it spread. Apply a systemic fungicide and wait a few weeks before applying any fertilizer.

Read product labels thoroughly.

There are a few other optional things that can be done to help your customers' lawns thrive in the spring.

Before the onset of summer heat, lawn patchwork and light top dressing with a sand and topsoil mix is a great way to recover any weak areas. Plugs can be purchased to fill in areas of the lawn with bare spots.

Aerating the lawn is also an ideal way to help deliver nutrients and really break up compacted soils. We typically recommend doing this once every couple of years. If you notice thatch that is thicker than 0.5 inch, dethatch in late May.

Spring maintenance tips somewhat differ from maintenance practices that take place during the rest of the year because the weather is starting to warm up and everything starts to turn green again.

Although cool-season grass doesn’t usually go dormant during the winters, snow in a lot of the areas up north starts to melt and lawns will receive more sunlight. It is important to partake in spring maintenance so that you can set your customers' lawns up for success for the rest of the year.