Thinking Ahead to Warmer Days and Greener Lawns

As of today (February 10, 2016) there is a little over 5 weeks left until Spring! I am more than ready for Spring to arrive….I want to open windows and get back out in the yard and get my garden cleaned up from last year. Granted, as we are all well aware, even once it's officially Spring, Mother Nature may send us the kind reminders that the weather isn't always nice just yet. Usually once the weather begins to warm up in the Spring and the grass resumes it's growing and turns back to green, lawn care comes to mind for many.

When it comes to Spring Lawn Care, early spring fertilization of turf is no longer recommended. Early spring fertilization encourages top growth at the expense of root growth and reduces the turfs ability to handle hot dry weather during the summer. The best time to apply the first round of turf fertilizer is around middle of May – Mother's Day weekend is a good weekend to mark on your calendar. That is only if you plan to irrigate your turf throughout the summer.

Once grass starts to grow again it means it time to pull out the mower again as well. Before the first mowing of the season, make sure to do some basic maintenance on your mower including sharpening the blade and making sure it's cleaned up at minimum. I usually take my mower into a local shop once a year for a basic servicing to keep it in good working order. Make sure to mower your lawn between 2-2.5 inches height, too short and it allows weeds to germinate and too tall can lead to disease issues since the turf can't dry out when wet. Also, never remove more then 1/3 of the turf height during a mowing session. If for some reason the turf gets away from you (trust me, it's happened to me numerous times), then remove 1/3 of the height in once session then a few days later mow down to the proper recommended turf height.

Weed control is another thing to get ready for once the weather begins to warm up and one of our major turf grass weeds is crabgrass. One of the early spring weeds that typically need to be controlled is crabgrass. Crabgrass – the thick leaved, clump forming turf monstrosity. This weed germinates when soil temperatures are 55 degrees and above for 7-10 consecutive days and it needs light and open space to germinate. If the turf is thick enough and healthy enough, it can inhibit germination. Crabgrass is a much bigger problem in sparse and poor condition turf stands. April 1 and again middle of May, is usually the best time to apply crabgrass preventers. The later application will also help to control other annual grassy weeds as well. Just be mindful that crabgrass control will also stop germination of turf seed, so if you are seeding your lawn, it's best to have those newly seeded areas mowed once before using crabgrass preventers. If you are over seeding or reseeding your lawn, I recommend using a mixture instead of a single species of grass, it provides multiple benefits for the turf from quick germination seeds to help fend off weeds to slower germinating grasses that become the staple in the turf. Typically middle of April is usually the cut off for seeding success for the year.