After the cold season, moss, tangles and discolored patches usually dominate the lawn. Proper lawn care after the winter is required to give the stressed grass area an effective start into the new season. Mowing, scarifying, repairing and sprinkling are now the focus of activities so that the wintry stubble meadow is quickly transformed into a deep green, even carpet of grass. The hobby gardener also gives the grass cover the decisive boost of energy with the right nutrients. Those who are familiar with how lawn fertilization works in spring will give their horticultural calling card a respectable lead over their neighbors.

The first mowing of the year

If the temperatures constantly level off at over 10° Celsius in spring, the lawn ends its winter growth phase. When the tree is about 8 cm tall, it’s time for the first cut. Choosing the right time requires a little finesse. If you mow too early, a late frost period will damage the grass area considerably. On the other hand, if a hobby gardener waits too long, the lawnmower will be overwhelmed because the grass is too tall. The following tips are designed to help you decide when and how to mow your lawn after winter.

  • The lawn is dry and the weather is mild.
  • The sky is overcast with no blazing sunshine.
  • A cutting height of 3 to 4 cm is ideal.
  • Don’t step on the uncut grass beforehand.

If the stalks have grown too high due to a mild winter, we strongly recommend mowing in several stages.

Scarify only when necessary

After the first lawn cut, the hobby gardener takes a close look at the grass surface. If it has a lot of weeds, moss and felt, scarifying is generally an option. A special device loosens up the turf, removing moss, clover, weeds and everything that doesn’t belong there. The result is an aerated lawn that will thank you with lush growth. If the healthy grass predominates, there is no need to comb the area. In this case, the subsequent supply of nutrients will vitalize the grass roots sufficiently so that they suppress existing matting on their own.

  • Perfect conditions prevail in dry weather and 10° to 20° Celsius.
  • All unwanted plants are scraped off the lawn up to a maximum depth of 10 mm.
  • In two passes, one is scarified lengthwise and one crosswise.

As an alternative to the electric scarifier, hardware stores offer a special rake that is operated with pure muscle power. In this case, it is important to ensure that you do not work deeper than 10 mm, otherwise the roots of the grass will be damaged.

Overseeding closes bare spots

If an unsightly patchwork quilt remains after scarifying, you can easily close the bare spots.

  • Loosen the soil and overseed with a suitable type of grass.
  • The seed will grow faster if the soil is enriched with compost.
  • In the period that follows, do not walk on these areas and water them repeatedly.

Ready-made ‘lawn plasters’ are also available for purchase in stores. They consist of a mix of seed, substrate and fertilizer in exact dosages. The work is even easier if turf is available. The sod is removed to a depth of 2 cm, the soil is raked and compost is incorporated. After the fresh patch of lawn is in place, it is rolled and watered generously.

Aeration for the perfect lawn

Every hobby gardener is familiar with scarifying as part of lawn care after the winter. He is less familiar with the much deeper aeration of the grass surface, also known as aerating. While the scarifier merely scratches the surface to remove weeds, moss and lichen, it only fixes the problem temporarily. Next spring, this care measure will definitely be at the top of the work list again. The reason why scarifying is necessary at all lies much deeper in the earth. If you use the lawn to play, celebrate and relax, compaction will occur over time. This results in the formation of waterlogging, because rainwater and irrigation water cannot drain off properly. The healthy grass roots die while lichen, weeds and moss find ideal living conditions. Aerating fixes the problem from the ground up.

This is how aerating works

In order to optimize water drainage and aeration of the lawn, special spikes are used to pierce holes up to 10 cm deep in the turf. This task is performed in the home garden by an electric or manual aerator that can be rented. While until a few years ago these machines were reserved exclusively for commercial landscapers due to the blatantly high price level, devices are now available that fit into the budget of a hobby gardener. Alternatively, the recreational gardener straps flip-flops under his work shoes to aerate his lawn simply by walking across it.

  • Aerate the slightly damp lawn in March/April.
  • Make sure the holes are evenly distributed.
  • Then fill the holes with a sand-hummus mixture.

Although the lawn does not necessarily have to be scarified every year after winter, aeration should be part of the standard program. Experts also advise repeating this measure in the fall.

cutting lawn edges

When looking after the lawn after the winter, you should not forget the lawn edges. Even the most powerful lawnmower cannot reach every blade of grass. This is especially true of the edges, which have become unsightly out of shape after a long winter. After the first mowing, scarifying and aerating, the wispy tufts of grass really catch your eye and have to go.

  • Lawn edges are shaped cheaply and easily with grass shears.
  • Working with a cordless lawn trimmer is more convenient.
  • The straight blade lawn edger creates a line as if drawn with a ruler.

A lawn trimmer with a cutting head that can be positioned vertically works without physical effort and yet precisely into the outermost corner. In order to achieve a satisfactory result, taut cords are used for orientation. The longer a lawn edge stretches, the more likely it is that you will lose the sense of proportion for a perfectly straight course.

pH value determination and soil analysis

An experienced hobby gardener leaves nothing to chance when it comes to nutrient supply; the effects are too serious if one acts on this point at an approximate level. It is therefore advisable to regularly measure the pH of the soil in order to subsequently make the appropriate decisions regarding the dosage of fertilizers. You can also over-fertilize a lawn, which leads to salination and thus causes considerable damage. In addition, a professional soil analysis provides detailed information about the nutrient content of the soil. While there are uncomplicated test sets for determining the pH value on the market for about 5 euros, the soil analysis requires a competent laboratory, which naturally leads to higher costs of 50 to 100 euros. It is therefore advisable

  • An approximate pH of 6 to 7 is ideal for a lawn.
  • If the result is below that, the administration of lime is necessary.
  • A higher value is regulated in connection with the fertilization.

If the result of the pH value test is below 6, the hobby gardener first applies a sufficient amount of lime to his lawn. The dosage depends on the nature of the soil and the degree to which the acidity of the soil needs to be adjusted. The following list provides proven guide values:

Light bottom with plenty of sand

  • pH below 5: 150-200 g of lime per m²
  • 5-6: 120-180 g lime per m².
  • above 6: do not give lime.

Medium soil of mostly clay with some sand

  • pH below 5.8: 300-400 g of lime per m².
  • 5.8 to 6.5: 180-250 g lime per m².
  • over 6.5: do not lime.

Heavy soil of loam and clay

  • pH below 6.3: 300-400 g of lime per m².
  • 6.4 to 6.9: 250-350 g lime per m².
  • over 7: do not lime.

Practical experience has shown that correcting the acidity is sufficient for several years. Annual maintenance liming in spring is only recommended if the lawn shows an extremely low value.

Fertilize the lawn properly

Lawn care after the winter is only complete in every respect when a balanced fertilizer is administered. After the first cut, scarifying and aerating, the grass roots are as receptive to additional nutrients as they would be at any other time of the year. The focus is on the following three types of nutrients, supplemented by trace elements and minerals:

  • Nitrogen: constant growth, rich green colour, cell strengthening, ability to regenerate.
  • Phosphorus: healthy root growth, regulation of the energy balance.
  • Potassium: Strengthening of resistance and metabolism, storage of reserves for the winter.

If the pH value determination shows that liming is necessary, the knowledgeable hobby gardener then waits at least 3 weeks before fertilizing. The reason for this waiting time is that lime and fertilizer cancel each other out in their effect, which cannot be in the gardener’s interest.

Happy are the gardeners who have a detailed soil analysis at their disposal. Linked to the result, the laboratory delivers a well-founded fertilizer recommendation that only needs to be implemented. Of course, other hobby gardeners don’t have to grope in the dark if they heed the following overview.

Different types of lawn

The most important thing first: The ultimate fertilizer for the lawn in spring does not exist. Rather, it is the case that experienced hobby gardeners have worked out their favorite mixture over time.


  • Nitrogen: 10-25 g/m²
  • Phosphor: 3-5 g/m²
  • Potassium: 5-15 g/m²

Sports and utility turf

  • Nitrogen: 15-35 g/m²
  • Phosphor: 5-10 g/m²
  • Potassium: 10-25 g/m²

The more the lawn is used, the higher the dose should be. The NPK information on the packaging indicates the respective composition of the preparation. It is also recommended to use a long-term fertilizer with weed killer with a reliable duration of action of 100 days.

  • Spread the fertilizer on a dry, warm day.
  • Ideally, a spreader is available.
  • Overlapping application must be avoided at all costs.

The grass surface is then thoroughly watered so that the active ingredients reach the roots. The fertilized lawn is only mowed again when the grains have completely rained on.

At the start of the new gardening year, it is important to put together an efficient overall package of measures for lawn care after the winter. The first mowing is part of it, as well as scarifying, aerating and cutting lawn edges. Fertilizing in the spring is of the utmost importance in order to create the best conditions for a lush green, dense, healthy lawn all year round.

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