Soon enough mowing your lawn will be a weekly task, so don’t rush it. Make sure it’s sufficiently dry before mowing. If the soil feels soft to walk on, you’ll not get a clean cut and you’ll leave tire tracks in the lawn.
That first mowing of the season should be viewed as the culmination of a series of tasks, rather than the beginning. Your lawn will look nicer if you pick up fallen branches and debris before mowing. If there are leaves on your lawn, waiting for them to dry before mowing will eliminate having to rake them. Instead, you can mulch them when mowing. This returns essential nutrients to the soil, nutrients that you would have to replenish with fertilizer. The first fertilizer of the season can be applied anytime after it’s safe to walk on the lawn. Otherwise, the spreader’s tires will leave track marks just as the mower will.
Weeding before the first mowing will assure that there’s still plenty of the weed’s broad leaves, which is helpful no matter how you go about the job of weeding. If you choose the manual method, the weeds will be easier to see than they will after you’ve mowed off the foliage. Also, you’ll have the leaves and strong stem to help you pull the weeds out of the ground. It helps even if you cut the roots with a tool.
For those opting for chemical weeding, broad leaves give you a good target for broadleaf weed killer. And, you’ll also have a good “handle” with which to pull dead weeds out of the ground. A word of caution though: be sure to use a product labeled specifically for broadleaf weeds. Anything else is probably a non-selective herbicide, which means that it will kill any plant it touches, even your grass.
Wait until after your first mowing to repair any winter damage. Rake out patches of grass that succumbed to the various winter fungal diseases. Then rough up these areas, as well as any other bare spots. Spread fertilizer or compost and seed on those spots, rake it in and water. Keep those spots well-watered but don’t flood them. You’ll probably start seeing grass poking up from the soil in seven to 10 days.
If digging weeds is difficult and the soil is compacted, consider aerating. This is best done before the weather heats up. A specialized machine, which can be rented from equipment rental stores, punches holes in the soil and pulls out plugs of soil. Soil can then loosen up, creating more pores for water and oxygen. This is a job that you may want to turn over to our lawn care professionals because the machine is heavy and cumbersome, and you will have to transport it from the rental yard to your yard and back.
One last tip: set your mower blade height at three to four inches. Your lawn will be thicker and healthier. This will discourage weeds and there will be more leaf surface for the grass to make food through photosynthesis. This length lawn is easier to maintain than one that’s putting green length.