Published on March 31st, 2021 | by Natural Awakenings Publishing Corp.0
Timing is Everything for a Greener Lawn
Nothing is more true about lawns than the idea of “right time, right place!” A little planning and timely action will make the lawn healthy, lush and green for the whole year. A timely and well-fed lawn is always in the pink of health, with a more vital and resilient root system to resist heat, drought and foot traffic.
Take a good look at the lawn once the snow has melted and temperature gets into the mid-40s. The lawn has endured the winter frost and now needs nourishment and caring. The most important time is in the early spring—with good nourishment, we can have a green lawn and surely prevent a crabgrass attack.
Dethatch and Aerate
Rid the lawn of dead grass, leaves, branches, twigs and any other debris. Dethatch to open it up and get the air circulating around the base of the grass. Its optional, but aeration helps compacted soils (often clay-heavy) to allow oxygen, water and nutrients to penetrate the topsoil and reach the root zone. The majority of lawns don’t need aeration, but it will be beneficial.
Test the Soil
Also optional, but a good indicator of the lawn’s condition. Test the soil lawn to see what nutrients are required and choose a fertilizer to apply. A good soil test kit will test for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK), as well as acidity (pH) levels.
This is the most important application of the year. Apply before temperatures reach the mid-to-high 50s, which is when crabgrass and other weeds seed start to germinate. Choose a preemergent with the active ingredient prodiamine. Preemergents applied to lawns will prevent weed seeds from growing roots and shoots. A timely and effective preemergent weed control application targets the most damaging summer annual weeds. A few weeks delay will limit the options and make it expensive to get rid of these weeds.
Mow the grass high, about three to four inches in the spring and early summer to ensure that the roots reach deep and the soil stays moist to reduce the need for watering.
Generally, spring activitiy will occur about six to eight weeks after applying early spring feedings.
Seed to Prevent Weeds
Fill in the lawn. Patching bare spots and overseeding will help prevent weed growth and yield a thick, full lawn. Tall fescue grass should be overseeded once a year. Other cool-season grasses are more flexible, but annual overseeding is a good habit to get into for a healthy lawn that crowds out weeds. Remember to wait at least two weeks before and after application of fertilizers.
Choose NPK fertilizers based on a soil test or another spring application fertilizer. This application will support the growth needed to maintain lawn health in the summer. It will stimulate healthy top growth as it produces strong roots and knocks off dandelion, clover and other annoying weeds.
If the lawn had grub problems in the past, then this its also the time to apply a grub preventer. Maintain a minimum three-week gap between applications.
Be on the lookout for pests in the summer months. Not all insects will damage the lawn, but proper identification of lawn pests such as grubs and turf caterpillars is important. Look for feeding symptoms throughout the summer. If there is unusually high feeding activity, or if the lawn begins to wilt in patches or form bare patches, call a pest control company immediately, as it could be signs of an insect infestation.
Keep mowing high and check to ensure the blades haven’t grown dull, which can harm grass and cause blade damage. Avoid mowing cool season grasses on hot days. Warm season lawns will require more frequent mowing in summer to avoid scalping. Every once in a while, leave the clippings on the lawn, as they will break down and help feed the grass.
Ensure that the grass is getting at least one inch of water per week. Water deeply to help support root growth. Plan to water the lawn once a week for about an hour to provide an inch of moisture. Measure water with a rain gauge or place a tuna can under the sprinkler system. The can is about an inch high, so once it’s full, we’re done watering. We can also measure the depth of the water by how easy it is to push a dowel or screw driver into the earth.
For more information, visit LawnReminders.com.