When the first crocuses and daffodils peek through the soil, it’s a sure sign that spring is arriving. In Seattle, the damp winter makes way for fresh growth, and your yard could use a little TLC. Here are 8 easy steps to prepare for spring and ensure a lush lawn throughout the year. Whether you have a small garden or a sprawling landscape, these tips will help you with all your Seattle yard maintenance needs.

1. Rake Gently to Clear Out Thatch

Raking is a crucial step in Seattle yard maintenance. After the wet winter, you may find a thick layer of thatch—dead grass from last year—covering your lawn. If this layer is over 1/2 inch, it can stifle new growth. Use a flexible rake or a cordless leaf blower to gently clear out the thatch. Don’t rake too early; wait until your lawn starts greening up to avoid damaging the tender grass blades. This gentle raking can also help break up snow mold, which may have formed during the winter.

2. Aerate Only If Necessary

Soil compaction can be a common issue in Seattle yards, especially in areas with heavy foot traffic. Aerating helps to relieve this compaction, allowing air and water to reach the roots. However, spring aeration can encourage weed growth, so it’s best to do this only if necessary. If you do need to aerate, wait until Memorial Day, when weeds have started growing but haven’t gone to seed.

If your yard is small, a hand aerator should do the trick. For larger lawns, consider renting a lawn aerator from a hardware store. While aerating, keep an eye out for grubs—pale, white pests that feed on lawn roots—and deal with them using insecticides, neem oil, or milky spore powder.

3. Test Your Soil’s pH

Seattle’s weather can affect soil pH, impacting your lawn’s health. Grass prefers a neutral pH, around 7, but rain can make the soil more acidic. You can send a soil sample to your local cooperative extension office to find out your soil’s pH and adjust it accordingly.

If your soil is too acidic, apply garden lime to increase the pH. If it’s too alkaline, use compost or elemental sulfur to lower it. Testing your soil is a vital part of Seattle yard maintenance and can help you avoid future lawn issues.

4. Overseed to Fix Bare Patches

Bare patches in your lawn can be caused by various factors, from dog spots to heavy traffic. Overseeding can help restore these areas, giving your lawn a lush, healthy appearance. Although fall is the best time to overseed, you can still do it in spring. Just be prepared for some crabgrass.

To overseed, apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer (starter fertilizer), and keep the new seed moist until it starts growing. After about five weeks, you can switch to your regular fertilization routine with a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer.

5. Fertilize Lightly

Fertilizing is a key part of Seattle yard maintenance, but you don’t want to overdo it. A light feeding three weeks after your lawn starts to green up is usually enough. Too much fertilizer can lead to disease and weed problems. If you prefer organic fertilization, use a mulching mower to chop lawn clippings into a source of nitrogen.

6. Apply Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Weeds can be a major nuisance in Seattle yards, especially with the moist climate. Pre-emergent herbicides can help by creating a chemical barrier on the soil’s top layer, preventing weed seeds from growing. Apply these herbicides early in the spring, before your first mowing. However, if you’re overseeding, avoid using pre-emergent herbicides as they can interfere with seed germination.

7. Apply Post-Emergent Herbicides or Pull Weeds

Despite your best efforts, some weeds might still appear. For stubborn ones like dandelions, you can snap off their flower stems, dig them out with a weed extraction tool, or use post-emergent herbicides formulated for broadleaf weeds. Manual weed pulling can also be effective, especially in smaller yards.

8. Service Your Lawnmower

Your lawnmower is essential for Seattle yard maintenance. Start it up to see if it needs a tune-up or blade sharpening. A dull blade tears grass, leaving ragged brown tips, while a sharp blade ensures a clean cut. If you use a robotic lawnmower, remember to clean it at least once a week during the mowing season.

When mowing, keep it high—this helps keep your lawn healthier and prevents weeds from taking over.

Spring Lawn Care FAQs

Should I fertilize my lawn in the spring?

Yes, it’s a good idea to fertilize your lawn about three weeks after you notice it greening up. You can also fertilize after the second or third mowing.

Should I rake up dead grass in the spring?

Rake dead grass once it’s a bit warmer, usually around mid-April. Make sure your lawn is starting to green up to avoid damaging new growth.

Should I water my lawn in the spring?

If Seattle’s spring showers are plentiful, you might not need to water your lawn. If you’re overseeding or applying other treatments, follow the directions to know if and when you should water.