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Aerating and Fertilizing Your Lawn

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Aerating and Fertilizing Your Lawn

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Ah, spring. Take advantage of the season and prepare your lawn for maximum lushness. From aerating your lawn and fertilizing your lawn to repairing dead patches of grass to top dressing your lawn, now’s the perfect time to lay the tracks for spring lawn perfection.

How to Fix Dead Spots in Your Lawn


Spring is the time to repair dead patches in your lawn. To repair dead patches, begin by raking out dead grass or use a shovel to slice off the dead turf. Dispose of this layer. Then use your 20V MAX* Cordless Cultivator/Tiller to cultivate the area. Start shallow and gradually move deeper as the soil loosens. Make sure you are not working over sprinkler lines! Add a layer of compost and use the Garden Cultivator to mix it into the top two or three inches. Lightly tamp down the soil. The soil should be even with the surrounding soil level. Then scatter seeds or lawn patch over the bare area. Finally, water well. Protect the area from traffic and water every day until seedlings are well established.

Timing is Everything

When to fertilize your lawn—and how to fertilize your lawn—are some of the biggest questions in lawn care. Lawns wake up in the spring and go dormant in the fall, regardless if they are warm season or cool season grasses. They both need a dose of fertilizer during the wake-up period, however each is slightly different.

When to apply lawn fertilizer depends on the type of grass you have. Spring is the most important application time for grasses that grow during the warm season (also known as warm-season grasses). They need nutrients to establish strong roots and promote leaf growth. A slow-release fertilizer is a good idea to prevent overly rapid growth in warm-season grasses. Light, frequent doses of fertilizer are appropriate all summer long to maintain steady growth. Warm- season grasses stop growing during the fall, so fertilizer is not necessary.

Stimulation is the goal in the spring for cool-season grasses. The lawn fertilizer you choose should promote growth without supplying too much nitrogen. In the summer, cool-season grasses are stressed by the heat and typically go dormant. Applying lawn fertilizer at this time is not necessary. Fall is the most important time to fertilize cool-season grasses. Lawn fertilizers blended for fall application will help the lawn store nutrients over the winter for a strong spring start. Fertilizing your lawn at the correct time with the correct lawn fertilizer will make all the difference.

Spreading Lawn Fertilizer with a Drop Spreader

drop spreader

One of the best ways to spread fertilizer is to use a drop spreader. The basics of how to use a drop spreader aren’t difficult. The popular fertilizer spreader works by dropping granular fertilizer directly from the hopper onto the turf, in an even, defined path. The challenge is that precision is absolutely necessary. If you have ever seen strips of bright green in a lawn, a drop spreader was probably the culprit. Though difficult to use, the advantage of such precision spreading is that fertilizer is not being broadcast into flowerbeds, ponds or streams, or onto sidewalks or other hardscapes where it will need to be cleaned up.

First, make sure that the drop spreader does not contain any residue from the previous use. Adjust the spreader to the setting recommended on the fertilizer package. Fill the fertilizer spreader over a hard surface. Clean up any spills. Then begin spreading lawn fertilizer along the outside edge of the lawn. Make sure you can see where the fertilizer is dropping. When you get to the end of the pass, release the drop spreader handle. Then spread fertilizer on the opposite edge of the yard. Next, continue spreading fertilizer between and perpendicular to the first two passes. Take care to overlap passes by the width of a wheel. When you have covered the entire lawn, sweep up any fertilizer that has fallen on sidewalks, driveways, or in the street. Finally, water the entire lawn thoroughly.

How to Aerate Your Lawn


What is lawn aeration and why aerate your lawn? Lawn aeration is an important part of maintaining a healthy lawn. Lawns can become compacted over time, making them too dense to effectively allow air, water, and nutrients to reach grass roots. Aerating your lawn creates openings for air and nutrients to get deep into the root system. The aeration process is simple. The power core aerator pulls cores of soil out of the ground and deposits them on the surface.

When to aerate your lawn depends on the type of grass you have. If you have warm- season grass, aerate your lawn in the late spring. Cool-season grass should be aerated in early fall.

The first step before aerating your lawn is to make sure the soil is slightly moist. Bone dry soil is difficult for the machine to penetrate. Wet soil will bog down the lawn-aerating machine and simply create a muddy mess. Water the entire yard lightly a few hours before aerating your lawn. While waiting for the moisture to soak in, mark all sprinkler heads and any lines that are less than 5” deep with flags. Remove any debris such as tree branches from the yard before aerating your lawn. To begin aerating your lawn, set the depth gauge on the coring machine to maximum. Run the machine across the lawn, back and forth in one direction. Then run it again, perpendicular to the original direction. Allow the cores pulled up by the lawn aerator to dry for a day, then gently rake across them to break them up so they decompose more quickly. After lawn aeration is complete, it’s the perfect time to overseed and topdress your lawn.


Top dressing is a very effective, yet simple, lawn maintenance technique involving the application of a layer of organic material to the top of the lawn. This organic material is called top dressing. It works slowly to add organic material into the soil. You can top dress a lawn with pure compost, or mix three parts sand to three parts compost mixed with one part sphagnum peat. It is best to top dress your lawn after aeration.

Top Dressing 101

If you are using a mix, begin by mixing the top dressing lawn components. Distribute the top dressing mixture over the lawn evenly using a shovel. Use about 3 pounds of top dressing mix or compost per square yard. Then spread the top dressing lawn mixture using the back of a garden rake. The goal is to distribute the top dressing to the soil level without damaging the grass. Use a leaf or spring rake to work the top dressing lawn mix into the grass. Ideally you should have about 1/4” of top dressing over your lawn. Finally, this is the perfect time to overseed your lawn. When finished overseeding, water thoroughly.