Raking: It’s Not Just For Fall Anymore
Raking lawns to air out dead spots after winter is over
Rakes can be used for more than just leaf removal. In fact, raking your lawn this spring will encourage better early-season green-up and improved growth throughout the summer.
Over the winter, snow mold disease, foot traffic on frozen turf, heavy snow accumulation and even salt used for melting snow can lead to dead, matted patches of turf throughout your lawn. These patches become obvious once the lawn comes out of dormancy in the spring.
The problem with these dead, matted patches is that new grass will have a hard time breaking through, preventing healthy turf from thickening naturally. Plus, dead grass contributes to your lawn’s thatch layer. This is the layer of living and dead grass stems, roots and crowns right above the soil. Thatch is a normal and healthy part of a growing lawn, but if it gets to be more than 1/2″ thick, it blocks air, water, nutrients and insect controls from the soil. Thick thatch can also serve as a breeding ground for lawn diseases and turf-eating insects.
Raking Lawn Troubles Away
An ordinary rake makes the perfect tool for dealing with dead, matted patches in your lawn. The key is not to overdo it. Rather than de-thatching your lawn, the goal is to loosen up the dead patches so that air, water, nutrients and insect controls can more easily reach the soil. This will also help existing turf to fill in the dead areas.
Light raking in various directions will air out the dead spots. Then, any dead grass that accumulates on top of your lawn should be removed. Using a mower with the bag attached is an easy way to do this.
A little raking this spring can make a big difference in your lawn’s looks and health. It’s a simple way to give your turf a head start on the growing season ahead.
Please note: If pre-emergents have been applied to your lawn, raking will make them ineffective. Any raking should be done prior to pre-emergent applications.
Be Careful with the Salt this Winter
Ice-melting salt can work wonders on roads, walks and driveways during the winter. However, it can also cause plant injury when it’s not applied carefully.
Salt can damage soil structure by increasing the soil’s sodium content, which leads to a decrease in the amount of nutrients, water and oxygen available to your plants. In addition, chlorine ions from salt can be absorbed by the roots and transported to plant leaves and shoots. When excessive amounts of chlorine are absorbed, you may start to notice a dried, burned effect on leaf edges (known as leaf scorch).
As an alternative to salt, you may want to consider using calcium chloride this winter (which isn’t as harmful to plants). And if you do use salt, you should try to avoid applying it near trees, plant beds, or where runoff will drain into plants when the snow melts.