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20 Spring Yard Work Blunders to Avoid

It's been a long winter and you're ready to get out and do some yard work. But before you grab that rake, ready the lawnmower and get out the chainsaw, make sure to read over these 20 common spring yard work mistakes so you don't make these goofs yourself.

1 / 20
shade grass seed

You Buy the Wrong Grass Seed

If you’re spreading grass seed this spring, make sure it’s the right kind for your lawn. Surprisingly, many grass seeds contain weed seeds, so be sure to look at the label and go for a seed that states it has 0 percent weed seed and 0 percent other crop.

Here’s more on what you need to know before you buy grass seed.

2 / 20
testing soil

You Don’t Test the Soil

Soil matters so it pays to test. Grass does best in soil with a pH of 6 to 6.5, so send a soil sample to your local extension service for testing. They’ll be able to tell you if your soil needs any amendments to promote healthy grass.

You can correct your soil’s pH—just follow these steps.

3 / 20
lawn problemsFamily Handyman

You Attack Weeds at the Wrong Time

Weeds need to be killed while they’re growing, so be sure you’re attacking them at the right time. Wait until the weather warms up a bit so the herbicide can be absorbed, but don’t wait until it’s too hot or the herbicide will stress the grass. Products will have directions on the best temperature range for application.

Here are six strategies that simplify weed control.

4 / 20
seed-spreader-lawn-careFamily Handyman

You Plant Only One Kind of Grass Seed

When you use a variety of seed types, it can help your lawn become established as the seeds’ strengths and weaknesses offset each other. Lawns with more than one kind of seed have a better chance at surviving bad conditions such as drought.

This is the right way to use a fertilizer and seed spreader.

5 / 20
Scotts crabgrass and weed preventerAmazon

You Apply Preventers at the Wrong Time

Crabgrass preventers (aka pre-emergence treatments) do one thing—they prevent crabgrass (and any other seed) from sprouting. Once crabgrass sprouts, it’s too late. Here’s the key: Apply preventer between the second and the third mowings. Because crabgrass starts sprouting a few weeks after the grass greens up, that’s generally just the right time.

Are you doing these 20 things wrong with your lawn? Hint: You probably are.

6 / 20
Watering Petrychenko Anton/Shutterstock

You Water Too Frequently

When you water too frequently, it discourages the grass from developing the deep root system it needs to take the water available deeper in the soil and become less dependent on supplemental watering. A rule of thumb is a third of an inch of water three times a week. So in the spring, when the ground is generally more saturated with moisture, be sure not to overdue it.

Here is a collection of our best lawn watering tips.

7 / 20

You Forget Safety Gear

Spring often means trimming trees, and if you’re getting the chain saw out, you need to take safety seriously. Special chaps will often stop a moving chain and save your thigh. A helmet with a face screen and ear protection is a convenient way to keep head, eye and ear protection handy in one comfortable package. Wear steel-toed, cut-resistant boots and a long-sleeved shirt to protect against the inevitable scratches.

This is the safety gear every DIYer should own.

8 / 20

You Don’t Trim Shrubs and Bushes Properly

If your shrubs got damaged during the winter, clip or saw off broken branches or stems all the way back to the trunk or main stem, instead of cutting only at the point of damage. Also, don’t be too liberal with the saw. Don’t take out a main stem when only a branch or two coming off it is damaged. If you’re unsure, it’s usually best to just leave it.

Try these pruning tips for healthier bushes.

9 / 20
killing long weedsFamily Handyman

You Try to Eliminate Weeds in Broad Strokes

If you have only a few weeds, pull them by hand or spray each one with a pump sprayer. Don’t treat your whole lawn for a few weeds. It’s expensive and ecologically unsound.

Follow these tips for getting rid of weeds naturally.

10 / 20
mulch hybridsojka/Shutterstock

You Jump the Gun on Flower Beds

Don’t remove the protective covering of mulch, straw and chopped leaves from your flower beds too early. Wait until daytime highs are regularly above freezing before getting started. When the temperature is right, use your hands or a light rake to remove mulch so you don’t break up or uproot tender plants.

Consider these 12 inspiring flower bed designs this spring.

11 / 20
shutterstock_633443108 RototillerFotoDuets/Shutterstock

You Use Dangerous Equipment

If you’re doing some heavy work in the yard this spring, make sure your equipment is in top working condition. A malfunctioning chain saw, lawn tractor or large rototiller can cause serious injury.

Learn how to repair and rebuild your own chain saw.

12 / 20
weed control instructionsAmazon

You Ignore Lawn Treatment Directions

Directions on lawn treatment products are important, so take the time to read the label. It’s not only the concentration for fluids or the spreader setting for granules. Pay attention to the details, like the rain forecast and what temperature ranges the treatment requires. Ignore them and you’ll either wreck your lawn or waste your time and money.

You need to stop believing these 10 lawn care myths.

Buy it now on Amazon.

13 / 20
shutterstock_588979808 gardening dirt digalicja neumiler/Shutterstock

You Ready the Vegetable Garden Too Soon

If you have a vegetable garden, don’t get too eager to work the soil. If you get out there while the soil is still somewhat frozen or muddy, you will compact the soil. The problem with compacted soil is that it doesn’t contain the oxygen young plants need grow. Hold off until the ground is dried out.

Here are 10 easy-to-grow vegetables every Midwestern gardener should have in their garden.

14 / 20

You Mow with Dull Blades

This spring, make sure your lawn mower is ready for the job. Dull mower blades rip through the blades of grass, which stresses the plant. Instead, you want to slice them off cleanly. You can always tell a lawn that’s been mowed with a dull blade because it looks brown on the top. Get on your hands and knees and you can actually see the damage!

Learn how to sharpen lawn mower blades in this video tutorial.

15 / 20
rake EdBockStock/Shutterstock

You’re too Rough with the Rake

It’s good to use the rake in the spring to remove debris such as twigs and leaves left behind from the fall. However, don’t be too rough or you’ll uproot new shoots or even break up chunks of sod.

These 23 yard tool hacks will make your life easier.

16 / 20
cordless chain saw cutting llogs battery powered chainsaw battery chainsawFamily Handyman

You Do Dangerous Jobs Alone

If you have a tree that needs to come down this spring, don’t work alone. You’ll be a lot safer if you have a trusted assistant standing a few feet behind you watching the top of the tree for falling branches and letting you know when the tree starts to fall. Have your assistant tap you on the shoulder with a stick to alert you when it’s time to vacate the area.

Watch this video to learn how to safely cut down a tree.

17 / 20
bin of grass clippingsLaMiaFotografia/Shutterstock

You Bag Your Lawn Clippings

This spring, get in the habit of using a self-mulching mower to leave shredded grass on the lawn. Cuttings act as free fertilizer (saving you money!) and mulching keeps those clippings out of landfills.

This is why you need to leave grass clippings on the lawn.

18 / 20
cover grass while digging holes fenceFamily Handyman

You Get Too Close to Power and Gas Lines

If you need to do any digging this spring—whether to do large tree planting or put up a fence—make sure you’re not digging into any gas lines. Always call 811 or go to at least a few days before you start any digging project to have your utility company come out and mark the buried lines.

Also be cautious when you have to work up high so you steer clear of power lines. When in doubt, hire a pro.

If you’re digging postholes, try using a power auger.

19 / 20
sodOlga Kuzyk/Shutterstock

You Lay Sod in the Shade

If you have shady areas that need patching, stick with seed rather than sod. Sod tends to struggle in shade. Spread the seed, then water frequently with a gentle spray until the grass is growing vigorously.

Sod vs. seed: Learn which is best for your lawn.

20 / 20
planting vegetable seedsamenic181/Shutterstock

You Plant Too Early

It’s tempting to get out and plant flowers and vegetables in the spring, but don’t do it too early. Just because the plants are on display at the local nursery, that doesn’t mean the conditions are right for them to go in the ground just yet. Check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to determine when it’s OK to plant.

Love to garden but short on time? Here are some tips that will help you plant, water and weed more efficiently so you have more time to stop and smell your roses.

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Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.