By this point in the winter, spring usually becomes a distant memory. It’s hard to believe it will ever come again. But in just a few short weeks, this March, which rolled in like a lion, will go out like a lamb. Wintry flurries will give way to warm spring showers. And, perhaps most importantly, the foliage outside will begin to wake from its seasonal slumber and peek from the frozen ground — not just in local botanical gardens and neighbors’ flowerbeds, but in your lawn, too.

You have a bit of work to do before your yard returns to its lush emerald splendor this spring, however. Without the proper preparation, your front lawn could devolve into a dull shade of yellow-gray and stay that way all summer long. If you’d prefer your yard to feel like a natural oasis, then make sure that you follow these steps before the first day of spring arrives (or at least within the first few weeks of the new season).

First Things First: Stock Your Toolbox

Rake? Check. Garden spade? Check. Manual tilling tool? Check. Go down your list of lawn and garden tools and make sure that you have everything on hand before you get to work. This means that, if you like to stow these pieces of equipment in the back of the garage, bring them to the forefront. It’s much easier to get all your lawn tools together in a single swoop than to run back and forth from your shed searching for equipment one piece at a time. Plus, they might need some TLC after hibernating all winter.

Do Some Spring Cleaning

You’ve probably already started to tackle the spring cleaning inside your home, but have you considered the mess that the snow and sleet brought to your lawn? Before you can really get going prepping the yard for spring, you’ll have to clean up what winter left behind. Start simply, with a rake in hand. Rid your lawn of not only the lingering leaves, but also any thatch that has built up over the course of the season. Raking will also remove any dead blades of grass that are now essentially debris.

Perform Any Necessary Repairs

The winter snow isn’t the only factor that brings chaos to your yard. Sudden changes in temperature damage branches, too, at least in part. A sudden drop in temperature, as opposed to a gradual change, can negatively impact a tree or plant that hasn’t slipped fully into hibernation mode yet. The same is true for extremely low temperatures, even if they occur gradually. Then, of course, there are obvious opponents to healthy plants, like snow, ice, frost and late-season freezes.

Before you get your lawn all gussied up for spring, make sure that you complete any necessary repairs after wintry damage. Take down dead trees and clip off half-broken branches. Trim any dead ends from struggling shrubs. Look out for chewed-up tree trunks and make a plan to ward off the rodents that caused it in the upcoming year. You may also take this opportunity to patch up any damage to your garage or shed caused by falling snow-logged branches if you haven’t already.

Give Grass Some Breathing Room

With these first basic steps completed, you turn your attention to the fresh grass that remains. It may have become impacted over the course of the winter season, especially if people and animals trod across it regularly in the chilly months. If you see moss, this is a clue that you have a compaction problem. Although most lawn gurus recommend you aerate your lawn in the fall, if compaction poses a risk to your yard this spring, aerate the lawn now using a motorized or manual tool.

Just Add Fertilizer

After aeration, you’re almost finished pampering your soil — but not quite. Before you introduce any new flora to the lawn, add a layer of fertilizer. True to its name, fertilizer is packed with the nutrients and moisture needed to help your little grass seedlings flourish. When you put down a layer in the spring, it helps to ensure that your lawn will thrive straight through the summer. Even if the availability of nutrients fluctuates a bit as the springtime temperatures adjust, fertilizer acts as an insurance policy for plant life.

Re-Seed as You See Fit

By this point in your lawn rejuvenation journey, you’ll probably already have spotted the patches of lawn that lost their grass in the harsh winter climate. So it should be easy to decide where to re-seed your lawn. Again, re-seeding is best completed in the fall, when crabgrass can’t overtake it (more on that next), but it’s understandable to want your yard full and lush for spring and summer. So if you want to re-seed now, apply the proper fertilizer and fill in the empty patches with the grass seed of your choice.

Launch a Preemptive Strike Against Invaders

‘Tis the season (almost) for May flowers, but it’s also the time of year that crabgrass rears its ugly head. Don’t even let it gain any traction in your natural oasis. Shield your lawn with a pre-emergent crabgrass treatment in the early weeks of spring, preferably when the temperature has begun to consistently hover around 55 or 60 degrees. This should help to keep your freshly primped yard free of intruders so that you can enjoy unabashedly as you host picnics and barbecues in the warm months just on the horizon.

You’ve aerated the soil. You’ve laid down the fertilizer. You’ve planted a new layer of grass seeds. Now there’s only one thing to do — well, two. First, wait patiently. As spring continues to bring its nourishing rains and warmer temperatures to your neck of the woods on a more consistent basis, your lawn will flourish just as consistently. Second, enjoy! Keep lawn maintenance in mind, of course, but don’t get so hung up on fighting weeds that you forget to run around barefoot in your lawn on a warm spring day.