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How to prepare your lawn for spring

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 (AP)

When the winter season ends, you will probably want to spend more time outside, appreciating the warm weather and the simple pleasures of a nicely kept lawn. Here are a few steps you can take toward creating and maintaining a healthy and gorgeous lawn.

Remove debris
Rake away the debris from the fall and winter months, including leaves and sticks. This will give you a fresh start for the spring. If you have leftover rubbish on the lawn, this can get in the way of mowing, watering, planting seed and so on. Raking has the added benefit of loosening the surface of the soil, encouraging healthy airflow.

Chris Lemcke, national technical director of Weed Man (a lawn care company), advises raking up last year's leaves and matted grass that were hiding under last fall's leaves and sticks left in the yard. This can keep the thatch level at half an inch or less. It will also allow you to care for the lawn properly.

Apply more grass seed
Look for areas with weak grass growth or dead grass. Use a strong rake to open the surface. Mix the grass seed with new, healthy soil. Then spread this soil/grass seed mixture over the surface. Don't forget to regularly water this area to foster hearty and fast grass growth.

Mulch
Mulch is a protective covering that you can apply to soil to lock in moisture. "Mulching with a depth of 2 to 4 inches around the bases of trees, shrubs and in flower beds will retain water and keep plants warm," says Lemcke.

Water deeply
Many homeowners water their lawns often -- but with little water. However, it's better to water only when your lawn needs it with a lot of water.

If you water deep and sparingly, you will train the grass roots to dig deeper into the soil. Whereas, if you water lightly and often, you will train the roots to stay near the surface, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Snow mold
Look for snow mold. This condition is caused when the grass doesn't receive enough oxygen because it's been covered in snow. Snow mold reveals itself when the snow melts.

If you rake your lawn before the arrival of snow, this can reduce your risk of snow-mold. Some people, with a history of snow mold, try to avoid this condition by mowing the lawn well into the autumn and spreading snow evenly across the lawn during winter. The latter, however, is deemed excessive by many people.

Mow high
Mow your lawn with a sharp blade. You should also mow often because grass doesn't adjust as well to infrequent mowing. If you keep your grass a bit on the longer side, it will grow thicker and healthier, with a better-established root system.

Better roots help your grass survive insects or drought. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, many turf grass species should be kept between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches.

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