Chip Gaines' quick spring lawn care tips for small spaces — what to know before your outdoor cleanup

The 'Fixer-Upper' star, Magnolia Homes owner, and Bobcat ambassador talked lawn care 101 for small spaces with Real Homes

Chip Gaines outside next to Bobcat lawn equipment
(Image credit: Courtesy of Bobcat)

Spring cleaning is in full swing, and you can't exclude lawn care from the to-do list. Even the smallest patches of greenery require plenty of TLC — take it from Chip Gaines. 

The Fixer-Upper star, Magnolia co-founder, and Bobcat ambassador speaks to Real Homes about assessing what to tackle, streamlining the process, and of course, having a little fun along the way. 

Once you've determined when to start mowing a lawn in spring, allow Chip's tips to send you in the proper direction. 

Chip Gaines' tips for spring lawn care

Regardless of backyard size or location, Chip's first piece of lawn care advice is to gauge what needs to be taken care of, that way you'll know early on what equipment you'll need to tackle specific projects. (The best small lawn mowers, edgers, rakes, etc.) 

From there, have a look to see whether there has been any damage during the cold-weather months. Perhaps you'll need to level a garden after animals were tunneling during the winter. Maybe you'll need to put down extra seeding in bare areas. Whatever the case might be, don't neglect the proper care needed to make your space thrive.

Then, one of the major ways to start preparing a lawn for spring is to aerate the soil so that leftover debris is discarded and your drainage system remains intact. He insists that all outdoor spaces can benefit from this process, even the little ones. 

Chip, who recently partnered with  Bobcat, is accustomed to using tractors and other large pieces of equipment to take care of his acreage in Waco, Texas, but for those who are working with less terrain, here's how to get the process going, according to the pro himself. 

What is the best way to go about cleaning up a small backyard space ahead of spring? 

Early spring is all about prepping your yard for the summer. That means taking a rake (or rake attachment on your mower) to the lawn to clean up dead grass and make space for new, green blades to grow. Make sure to do this when the ground is nice and dry so you don’t inadvertently make divots or rows in the wet soil. Follow that up with aerating and overseeding your lawn so it's ready for the summer sunshine to do its thing. 

(Psst: our expert-backed tips for how to mow a lawn and how to seed a lawn will also help during this process.) 

What equipment do you recommend for those with small backyards?

Compact excavators, mini-track loaders, and small articulated loaders are specifically designed to navigate narrow access points and tackle a wide variety of projects in confined workspaces. These machines are designed to minimize ground disturbance and their smaller size allows for easy maneuverability. If you don’t have a regular need for them, you can also rent compact equipment. 

You recommend starting smart. When it’s time to call it quits with the warm weather, how do you properly prepare your backyard so that it doesn’t get damaged during the winter?

Keeping your lawn well-maintained during the growing season will help set you up for success later on. In the fall, make sure to remove leaves that can smother the grass, winterize your irrigation system to prevent damage from freezing temperatures, and fertilize your lawn to help strengthen your turf and give it a head start in the spring. This application can catalyze one last frenzy of root growth and really give your plants some staying power through the cold months.

What to keep in mind...

Chip tells Bobcat reps: "When I keep my mind set on the thrill of the discovery — what it’s all going to look like or what I’ll get to learn on the other side — it’s a whole lot more natural to love the work itself."

Want more insight into keeping your grass green and healthy? We spoke to experts about the mowing mistakes to avoid at all costs, so take note before venturing out for some clipping. 

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.