When it comes to increasing your home's selling price, a beautifully kept lawn is nearly as important as a sterling home inspection report. Unfortunately, winter can be rough on this crucial piece of your home's appearance, and your grass and other landscaping features might not be looking their best at the moment. Before the summer heat kicks in and makes working outdoors sweaty and unpleasant, get your lawn in shape with the following tips:

Start with the soil 
If you find yourself having to do extensive work each year to make your lawn look presentable, consider getting a soil test before you embark on any other rehabilitation this spring. Specific sections of dirt can have different chemical compositions, according to Consumer Reports, and this makes certain areas much more amicable to healthy grass. A soil test ascertains what chemicals are present in your lawn's dirt and will provide information on the soil's pH makeup. Once you have this information, you can work to correct the chemical imbalance by spreading certain substances over the lawn. 

Whack the weeds

According to Walter Reeves, a gardening expert, the best defense against weeds is a healthy and full lawn. Unfortunately, the patchy expanse of grass that might emerge after the snowmelt doesn't meet this description. To stop weeds from taking over before grass has an opportunity to take hold, apply weed controlling chemicals early in the middle of March. If you wait to deploy weed prevention measures, you will allow these plant invaders to sprout. Once unwanted weeds have begun to grow, they are nearly impossible to unseat entirely, so act early and stop them before they get a head start. 

Fix bare areas

If you have dirt patches dotting your lawn, don't wait to replant grass. These spots will quickly be taken over by weeds, so Consumer Reports recommended laying down new sod immediately. It's important to replace the grass in an area that's slightly larger than the current dirt patch. This will encourage the new grass to integrate seamlessly with the existing lawn and ensure that you don't leave any dirt uncovered. If you want to save money, you could use grass seed instead of sod, but that may not provide the same coverage. In either case, spring is a great time to get new grass down because the rain will help it take root. 

Mow correctly

Consistent mowing makes a lawn look tidy and can keep the grass healthy. If you mow improperly, however, you risk damaging the grass. To keep your lawn healthy and strong, trim your grass so each blade is about three inches tall, Cornell University said. While there's no consistent rule for how often you should mow, you want to avoid removing more than one-third of the grass' height at any time. If you follow these guidelines, your lawn should fall into a natural rhythm of growth and trimming. Whenever you do cut the grass, leave the clippings on the lawn. They'll drop down to the soil, provide food for earthworms and keep your lawn looking its best. 

Pick the right kind of grass

If you find that your lawn refuses to thrive despite your best efforts, the grass itself might be at fault. Each type of grass succeeds in different conditions. Some variants do not need much sunlight, but require a lot of moisture, while others can remain very dry but need to be in the sun. Research different types of grass and pick a variety that works with your lawn's climate. The proper grass should make the rest of your lawn care much easier.