Days are getting hotter and a lot of your springtime plants and flowers will not make it through the high temperatures and massive sunlight without a lot of care. The experts all say the same basic things, which are to aerate, feed, water, and protect. But there is a bit more to it than that. I will try to help fill in the details for you.
Aerating your lawn in late spring is essential to let in the proper amounts of nutrients, oxygen, and water throughout the summer. The experts differ in their opinion of when and how often this should be done. Some say you should do it in the fall while others say spring. I think anytime in the spring after the last frost is good enough.
Many experts claim that you should only aerate your lawn every two or three years but the majority say that once a year is best. The lawn gets compacted by rain and traffic all year long and eventually, the grass will not be able to breathe. This causes those brown spots of dead grass in your lawn.
To make sure your lawn is able to soak up the water, sun, oxygen, and nutrients, you need to poke some holes in the ground. Seriously, that is all it is really. You can do this the old-fashioned way with a pitchfork (or just strap on some aerating shoes) if you have a small yard, but if your yard is large, get an aerating machine or tool. Push it around the yard and watch it pull out the soil plugs that are suffocating your lawn. Do not throw these into the compost bin. Leave the plugs there and mow them to break them up. They will provide good nutrients and ground cover.
The type of fertilizer you need depends on what kind of grass you have in your yard. For example, you should use a mix with a high nitrogen count for warm season grasses such as Bermuda grasses, Centipede grasses, Bahia grasses, and Zoysia grasses. In fact, all lawns need a high nitrogen count but it is best to check what type of grass you have before choosing your fertilizer. There are different amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (in that order) on the fertilizer bag or container that tell you how much of each is in the mix.
Of course, your yard needs to be watered. Not just the lawn but the trees, gardens, flowers, and anything else you want to keep alive. But how do you know how much water to give your lawn? The average lawn needs about one inch of water per week. When it is hotter, it may need more. It is best to water your lawn and everything else in the morning before 10:00 AM or later after the sun goes down. This allows your grass and plants to absorb the water before it dries out. You can water your lawn yourself with a hose, or toss a couple of sprinklers out there for a while once a week. But, if you have a large lawn, it may be better to install a sprinkler system that goes off on its own once or twice a week.
You do not want to do all this work in your yard just to let the critters eat it, right? I wrote an article a couple of months ago about protecting your yard from critters but here are some more tips. Use your hands to get rid of the bigger pests or spray a hose on them until they are gone. Then you will need to treat your lawn and any other live plants with pesticides. It is best to use natural organic pesticides or some of the recipes I mentioned in my article. Using toxic pesticides is not good for you, your family, or your pets when walking through the yard. You may even track these chemicals indoors on your shoes and this can get into your carpeting or floors where the children and pets hang out.
Another way you need to protect your yard is with mulch. This is especially important for flowering plants or fruits and vegetables. Spread a thin layer of mulch around the base of your plants to help retain moisture, block out the drying sun, prevent weeds, and keep critters away. You can use your own mulch that you make in your compost pile or you can get some from a garden or department store. If you do not have a compost pile yet, what are you waiting for? They are easy to build and save you tons of money and time.
You should also take this time to go around and pull some weeds that emerged since you planted at the beginning of the spring. You may also want to make any needed repairs to the deck, furniture, barbeque pit, pool, bird feeders, and whatever else you have in your yard. Then you can just sit in your favorite spot and look at the beauty you created.