Spring is finally upon us and the first cut of the season isn’t far off. Before you fire up your lawn mower, make sure you give it a spring tune up after it's sat through harsh winter temperatures. Read our guide: "Tips to Get Your Lawn Mower Ready for Spring".

In addition to lawn mower maintenance, your turf takes special preparation in the spring as well. Follow these simple steps for a healthy and attractive lawn:

Clear Debris

Just like your closet, your lawn needs a good spring cleaning. Rake or sweep up any debris left over from the fall and winter months. This prevents mold from growing and makes it easier to plant new grass seed.

Aerate

After months of being compacted by snow and lying dormant for the winter, lawns often need to be aerated (especially if your soil contains clay). You can typically rent aerators from lawn and garden centers for a reasonable price if you don’t wish to invest in one. Aerating allows oxygen to access formerly compacted soil, allowing turf to regenerate and grow more easily.

Seed Bare Patches

It is not uncommon for your lawn to have bare patches in the spring. The best way to combat this issue is to plant grass seed. Before choosing a seed, research the best type of grass to plant for the area you live in. Once planted, make sure to water the grass seed regularly.

Fertilize

Even if fertilizing was done in the fall, fertilizing in the spring may be necessary for a healthy and good-looking lawn. Poor nutrients can mean unhealthy turf. A slow-release nitrogen fertilizer is usually the best option. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as that can actually damage grass. More information on spring fertilization can be found here.

Wait to Mow

Don’t be too hasty to mow in the spring. Grass needs be given the chance to actively growing again before the first cut. Mowing too soon could set it back for the whole season. Also, cutting turf too short can remove nutrients stored in grass blades and expose soil to sunlight, which makes weeds more likely to grow. A general rule of thumb is to only remove the top one-third of the grass blades when you mow. Read about the ideal mower height for your type of grass.

The first cut of the season requires a little extra care, thought and time. But, getting it right can set you up for a great lawn all summer long.