Raking all the thatch out of the lawn can actually encourage more crabgrass to sprout. Keeping the seed shaded helps a good deal.
Don’t compact soils - don't walk on soil or work soil when it's wet. Compacted soils can lead to weeds, less absorbtion of storm water, and unhealthy conditions for desirable plants
Mulching early in the season- before plants emerge, will save work and reduce damage to plants. Late fall is another option as well.
Have a nice edge to hold mulch in place. This can be a freshly cut lawn edge, or a physical border like steel, brick, poly, or stone.
Don’t pile mulch against or close to the elevation of your siding. We recommend the top of mulch be 6” below the bottom of your siding. This will reduce potential for moisture and insect related issues. This is not always possible with older homes and low-to-the-ground homes like many of the ranches built in the 60’s in Madison, WI. Many homes need regrading to effectively shed moisture in the more intense storms we are experiencing.
Prepare for mulching before having the mulch delivered. Over time, mulch builds up in a landscape bed - making it more mounded each year. Over time, the beds can be so high that the mulch simply washes off into the lawn with the slightest rain or disturbance. One approach is to remove some of the decomposed material from the beds.
If you have excess broken-down mulch in beds, we have had good success simply spreading a thin layer (about 1/2” or less) on lawn areas. This helps to break down any thatch layer in the lawn, add beneficial soil biology (living microbes, etc) to the lawn, level low spots, and add nutrients.
Plan to overseed thin lawn areas around Labor Day - spring seeding may be effective but typically weed competition and summer drought wipe out new lawn plantings. Add some seed in early spring so it’s ready when conditions are favorable. Then plan to over-seed around Labor Day. Keep seed in a cool dry place to maintain viability.
Don’t rush out to buy plants without a plan. Do your research first and measure your available spaces first or you’ll simply end up with a mix-match of plants that don’t work well.