Many people love complaining about the weather, but let’s be honest, this winter has been horrible. You can take your pick of your least favorite part – the rain, the cold, the snow that seems to magically bring much of the country to a halt.
Its times like this when you look through your rain-smeared windows to a lawn that used to be the pride of the neighborhood and see something a little closer to a Jurassic swamp, occasionally with the final dying remnants of a snowman lost among it.
If you’re an enthusiastic gardener like myself, your first instinct is to charge out into the rain and take any action you can to save your precious lawn. However, you have to rein those instincts in.
Right now the best thing you can do for your lawn is steer well clear of it. This means that if there’s a shed, greenhouse or vegetable patch on the other side you need to reach you should either go around the grass, or get some old wooden boards to construct a temporary footpath.
Setting foot on the grass right now would be like taking a walk across wet cement- it will make a mess of your shoes and leave lasting damage where you’ve walked as well. Those wet footprints will dry, creating an obstacle course for your lawnmower that you’ll be cursing when spring eventually rolls around.
Help From an Unexpected Friend
How do you tell when it’s time to start repairing what the wind, rain and snow have done?
Fortunately when it comes to working out exactly when lawn maintenance can take place, you have some tiny allies on side in the form of the humble earthworm.
Earthworms are an excellent judge of soil conditions.
When it’s freezing cold they dig deep into the soil to keep warm, when it begins to warm up they start to rise to the surface again.
When you see worm casts starting to appear the dirt, that’s a good sign your lawn is starting become more hospitable.
Aerating Your Lawn
That’s your cue (read section above) to start going up and down the lawn with a garden fork, spiking the turf evenly about two inches deep every six inches along.
Then walk back up the garden sprinkling a little coarse horticultural sand over your lawn, about a handful for every square foot. This will help with both aeration and drainage.
The chances are some of this sand will end up in the holes you’ve just been spiking, but that’s what worms are for. They’ll poke it back up to the surface in no time.
Now at this point the lawn still won’t have returned to its luscious former glory.
You’ll probably be thinking it looks a bit anemic and will be itching to throw down some lawn feed or start tackling all the weeds and moss that have got a foothold through the winter.
Above all, remember not to panic and treat the grass with kid gloves. In its own time your lawn will be back to its old self again.