Spring is often a time for major cleaning projects. We spring clean inside our houses, so why not outside also? The lawn is the best place to start! April is generally suitable for initial lawn maintenance tasks in the Montréal/GTA region. Farther north, it is preferable to wait until May. It is inadvisable to rush outside as soon as the snow melts. The ground must be thawed and dry before it can be worked. Trampling on the ground while it is wet can damage the lawn and new grass shoots.
To revive your lawn after the long, cold winter, remove all gravel and other residue from the surface (dead branches and leaves) using a leaf rake. Seize the opportunity to assess your lawn’s general condition. You may find some damaged areas that need repairing. Refer to our article: 5 easy steps to repair damaged lawns.
In the spring, it is important to remove excess thatch (organic matter/decomposing roots) at the base of your lawn. This is called “dethatching”. This technique involves vigorously raking the soil when it is dry using a hard rake (light work) or a dethatching machine/scarifier (major work).
Ideal thatch thickness is between 1.2 and 2 cm. At this thickness, it serves as a cushion that absorbs foot traffic, retains water and nutrients, and protects the roots against climate variations.
Thatch in excess of 2.5 cm must be removed. Otherwise it can cause lawn damage by:
- increasing the risk of disease and insect infestations;
- preventing air, water and nutrients from reaching the soil;
- causing the roots to settle on the surface (shallow roots);
- drying out the lawn.
When to dethatch?
Dethatching should be done in the spring or fall, once every two to three years. Monitor the thatch accumulation on your lawn to determine when to dethatch.
The vertical cutting blades on the dethatching machine can damage the lawn’s root system. For this reason, once it has been dethatched, the lawn must be aerated, top-dressed and re-seeded so it quickly regenerates without being invaded by weeds. Accordingly, it is preferable for the thatch to decompose gradually through aeration.
To learn all about spring lawn maintenance, refer to our Lawn Calendar.