Spring fever and yardwork go together like Martha Stewart and designer compost containers. Raking the lawn lets us enjoy a nice spring day, get some exercise and keep our lawns healthy. But is there a danger of starting too early?
First, let’s examine why we rake lawns in spring:
- Grass often gets flat and matted under winter snow. Raking fluffs it up.
- Raking aerates the surface.
- Excess thatch is reduced.
- Raking fluffs up dead patches from winter diseases like snow mold. Often raking is all that’s needed for recovery.
- Raking cleans up the trails left by voles as they wound their way across the lawn under snow. Vole trails usually recover fine, just by raking.
Can lawns be damaged by raking too early in spring? Yes. If lawns are too moist, grass plants can be ripped apart, causing lawn injury.
How do you know when it’s safe to begin spring lawn raking? There’s an easy way to tell: If you can kneel on the lawn without getting a wet spot on your jeans, the lawn is ready to rake. An alternative test sometimes recommended is walking across the lawn in stocking feet, and test for wet socks. I don’t care for that method, because then you have wet socks. A wet knee isn’t as uncomfortable.
What about power-raking? University research recommends waiting with power raking until grass is green and growing, and has been mowed several times, rather than power-raking earlier. The same is true of core-aeration.
Enjoy the spring, and Happy Gardening!