The First Thing You Should Do in Your Yard for Spring, According to the Pros

published Mar 25, 2024
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A village cottage scene in the hamlet of Siasconset, Nantucket Island, MA
Credit: John Santoro / Shutterstock

Spring is officially here: The days are getting longer, the weather is getting nicer, and perennial bulbs like tulips and daffodils are starting to bloom. And while you might be tempted to focus all of your spring cleaning energy on sprucing up the inside of your house, your home’s exterior spaces could use a little love too.

But where to start? The first thing to tackle in your yard at the start of every spring should be checking your sprinkler system, says Cate Singleton, director of design at Tilly, an online landscaping design company. Even if you took steps to protect your sprinkler system in the fall, you just never know what you might find come spring. 

“Winters can be tough on irrigation systems,” Singleton says. “Ensuring that yours is tuned up and working properly can save money on both utility bills and replacing lawn and plants that may not be getting the correct amount of water. Proper irrigation is critical to a healthy landscape.”

The best time to inspect your sprinkler system is before you use it for the first time each year, she adds. Give all the components a thorough once-over to ensure everything is working properly — and that nothing got damaged by the snow, ice, and cold temperatures of winter. If you find any issues now, you’ve still got plenty of time to make repairs before the heat of summer sets in. 

Of course, while you’re working outside, you may as well tackle a few other spring yard maintenance tasks. Clint Jordan, a real estate agent in Colorado Springs, says now is also the best time to rake, dethatch, and aerate your yard to give it the best chances of growing lush and strong come summer. 

Dethatching means removing the layer of dead grass, roots, leaves, and other natural debris — known collectively as “thatch” — that tends to build up in your yard over time. Aerating, meanwhile, involves making small holes in the soil using special tools. (You’ve probably seen the little soil plugs in people’s yards before.)

Both processes help promote healthy growth by improving air circulation, making it easier for water and nutrients to reach your grass’s roots, allowing more sunlight in, and reducing the risk of pests and diseases. Be forewarned: Aerating and dethatching can temporarily make your yard look less attractive — but it’s worth it in the long run.

“It helps rejuvenate your yard, promoting healthier, thicker, and more vibrant grass growth while improving its overall appearance and resilience,” says Jordan, who’s also the founder of Mil-Estate, a network of real estate agents who are veterans or military spouses.

And if you’re trying to sell your house this spring or summer, clean up your flower beds and lay down new mulch, recommends Ryan Renner, a real estate agent in Omaha. This is a simple, inexpensive way to enhance curb appeal and make a great first impression on prospective buyers — and a step you really shouldn’t overlook. “Fresh mulch stands out, and it shows that you care about the maintenance of your home, both inside and out,” he says. “The great thing is you can tackle this project at any time in the spring. And it doesn’t cost much money. It’s just a little time and elbow grease.”