When winter gives way to spring, take a stroll around the yard. Check the lawn for damage and give it a little maintenance in the early season to help it recover from winter.

Use a leaf rake to gently lift and separate the matted blades of grass. This will speed drying, increase airflow, and reduce the risk of pink and gray snow mold developing and damaging your lawn.

These fungal diseases are most common when heavy snow or ice covers non-frozen lawn, or when snowstorms occur in late winter. The damage usually occurs where there is snow late in the season.

Symptoms appear as circular areas of matted brown grass. You can even see gray or pink cobweb-like growth over these areas. Fortunately, the lawns eventually recover. Reduce the risk of future problems with the right timing of lawn fertilization.

Remove any leaves or debris that has landed on the lawn. Large leaves in the grass absorb moisture and prevent sunlight from reaching the plants below. Use leaves you collect in the garden as mulch or add them to the compost heap.

Look for vole trails in the lawn. These small rodents travel under the snow and across the grass all winter in search of food. Their travels create traces of bare or dead grass. The surrounding grass eventually fills in the damaged areas. Speed ​​up recovery by sprinkling grass seeds over the paths. Simply mix a handful of grass seeds in a mop bucket of topsoil to create a lawn. Sprinkle the mixture on the paths, carefully stuffing and pouring.

Check areas along walks, driveways, and the street for salt damage. Even if you don’t apply de-icing salts, passing cars can spray them on your lawn. Your car also brings salt home when it drives on salted roads and puts salty snow on the driveway.

Make sure these areas get adequate water this spring. Regular spring showers often do the job. In dry spring weather, water these areas thoroughly to wash the salt past the grass roots into the soil below. Consider shoveling first and using plant-friendly de-icing salts in the future. This reduces the need for de-icing salts and reduces the time and money required to repair salt-damaged plants.

Use this time to sharpen your mower knives. Using sharp blades to cut the grass will result in a healthier, better looking lawn. The clean cut of a sharp blade closes quickly and reduces the risk of disease problems. Sharp leaves also save time as you can cut the grass more efficiently. Speaking of savings, your mower uses 22% less fuel and your lawn uses up to 30% less water when you use sharp blades.

Soon it will be time to mow the lawn. Mow high and often, and leave grass clippings on the lawn to add organics, moisture, and nutrients to the soil. Always sweep away sections of walks and drive to keep this precious organic matter off waterways.

Deal with winter damage now before the busier gardening season begins. If you invest time now, you will improve the health and beauty of your lawn and have more time to enjoy the summer.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts the DVD series “How to Grow Anything” from The Great Courses and the nationally syndicated television and radio program Melindas Garden Moment. Myers is also a columnist and editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Her website is www.MelindaMyers.com.