It requires a lot more than grass seed to have a healthy, lush lawn. If your landscape looks as worn and bare as the pelt of a mangy dog, it's time to seek professional help. A professional lawn and garden maintenance service can readily turn the brownest and barren landscape into a healthier, greener space to relax with family and friends. A verdant, manicured landscape also creates curb appeal and increases property value. The process of turning your “tired looking” yard into the envy of the neighborhood includes several steps. Spring Clean Up A winter’s worth of debris and leaf accumulation can smother the lawn, stunting spring grass emergence. Your professional yard service can make “fast work” of cleaning out flower beds, power raking the lawn, trimming broken tree branches, cleaning raining gutters and giving the landscape a “fresh face”. When choosing a professional lawn and garden maintenance company, select a contractor that provides all season services including snow removal, leaf removal, garden cultivation, green waste hauling, and sprinkler system installation and repair, as well as summer season lawn maintenance. Most landscape professionals offer weekly and monthly lawn and landscape maintenance packages designed to fit any budget. Aeration In nature, grasses grow tall, sinking deep anchoring roots. These deep roots serve to break up the soil and create a turf able to withstand the sweltering heat and periods of drought common to midwestern summers. In the home landscape, grasses are typically not left alone to mature naturally. Instead, we mow and edge, water, and weed, shaping the natural growth into a tight green carpet. However, all the aggressive activities required maintaining a manicured emerald green lawn compress the soil that in turn stunts root growth. Aeration allows oxygen to reach turf soil and grass roots. Aeration makes holes in the lawn and the soil by cutting and extracting a small plug from the soil or by punching holes in the soil. During the aeration process, the thatch is broken up and soil loosened. Healthy turf that is aerated withstands insect attacks, crowds out weeds and gives your home the visual appeal of a lush, thick green lawn. Dethatching Your lawn cannot grow if the soil cannot breathe or absorb moisture. Dethatching removes the tangle of matted dead grass and weeds that build up over a season of growth and mowing, smothering the soil surface and preventing oxygen, moisture and nutrients to penetrate the soil. When the thatch layer in your lawn exceeds a half-inch thick, its time to dethatch. A dethatcher, also known as a power rake, verti-cutter or vertical cutter uses tines specifically designed to loosen the thatch that is then cut with vertical blades that lift the thatch to the surface of the lawn. In order not to damage the lawn, it is imperative that the blades be properly adjusted and spacing set based on grass type. Although it is possible to dethatch a small area or a little lawn manually with a special dethatching rake, it is a laborious and time-consuming job best left to a professional with the equipment, knowledge and experience to do the job right.