The Quickest Way to Revive Your Lawn After Winter

Spring is the time for a good, stiff raking to remove thatch—a dead layer of debris that slowly builds up at the base of grass. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to aerate.

snow on grass

The Great American Lawn. To some, it’s a manicured masterpiece the equal of anything found at the finest golf course. See our top 10 tips for a perfect lawn. To others, it’s simply a soft, green spot for the kids to play on. However, if your turf isn’t looking so great, there’s no better time than spring to start improving it.

Dry up snow mold

One thing to look for after winter is snow mold, a cold-season fungus that causes gray-colored circles or patches where there had been snow. If you see snow mold, rake the lawn to loosen matted grass and allow the grass to dry out. You may need to overseed the area to encourage grass to fill in.

Get rid of leftover deicing salt

Also, if you live where winters are cold, grass near sidewalks and driveways may suffer damage from deicing salt. You can apply a thin layer of pelletized or granular gypsum—a naturally occurring mineral used as a soil conditioner—to replace the salt with calcium and sulfur. Water thoroughly. To minimize damage in the future, consider using sand or cat litter instead of salt.

Remove thatch and aerate

Spring is the time for a good, stiff raking to remove thatch—a dead layer of debris that slowly builds up at the base of grass. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to aerate. You can get together with the neighbors and rent a gas-powered unit for the day. Or aerate by hand with a manual core aerator. This loosens up the ground, allowing oxygen and water to better penetrate to the roots.

Overseed

After aeration, you can spread a light layer of compost and rake it in. This is also an opportunity to fill in the grass by overseeding. Rain is usually more prevalent in spring. If not, be sure to water the newly overseeded lawn daily until the grass has filled in (usually about 5–6 weeks). By then, you’ll be on your way to your own version of the Great American Lawn!

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Luke Miller
Luke Miller is an award-winning garden editor with 25 years' experience in horticultural communications, including editing a national magazine and creating print and online gardening content for a national retailer. He grew up across the street from a park arboretum and has a lifelong passion for gardening in general and trees in particular. In addition to his journalism degree, he has studied horticulture and is a Master Gardener.