Many grass types go dormant over the winter months. Eventually they wake up and lawn season begins anew. A few days of warm weather and sunshine in the Northern states give us hope that Spring has finally arrived. We know that a lot of you are biting at the bit when it comes to your lawn and garden. But, if at all possible, stay off the lawn until you can walk on it without sinking in.
Here are some season starting tips.
1. Start the season with a sharp mower blade. Dull mower blades tear the grass instead of giving a nice clean cut. Get your blade sharpened or put on a new one.
2. Give the lawn a light raking to remove debris and lift up matted grass and (in the North) snow mold damage. Snow mold, a lawn disease, occurs on most Northern grasses, especially the creeping grass types. It is worse when there has been alternating snow cover and warm periods. Most snow mold will disappear by mid spring if you fluff it up a bit so air and sunlight can get to the soil. To learn more about snow mold, read our post called Understanding Snow Mold .
3. Seed bare and thin areas early. You want the grass thick before the weeds start sprouting. Use the correct seed type for your area and your particular lawn.
4. Make your first short – as low as you can mow without scalping the lawn- perhaps 1 – 1 ½ inches high. Do this only when the grass is just starting to grow - not if it is already growing vigorously. This short mowing cuts away some of the dead grass left over from the previous season (if you left it too high). It also helps warm up the soil faster, stimulates growth, and allows more sunlight to reach the newly forming grass blades.
5. Gradually raise the mowing height after the first cut. Click here to visit our All About Mowing posts
6. Mow at least once a week in the spring. Try to “trim” the grass instead of “chop” the grass. In other words, mow often enough so the clippings are short and so they can be left on the lawn.
7. Get your soil tested. A balanced soil promotes a healthier lawn. Hidden problems like missing basic nutrients or poor pH can be affecting your lawn adversely. It can even prevent your fertilizer from working well. Every state has an agricultural college that does soil testing. Many nurseries and lawn care companies will send samples out for you too. Or just google soil tests online and take your pick. Make sure you get a complete test, not just the pH. Use Lime or our Liquid Lime to correct acidic soils.
8. Aerate and bioactivate the soil. Instead of poking holes with a coring machine, and exposing weed seeds to sunlight, try " liquid aeration " . We use Aerify PLUS for our liquid aerations. If you are growing a lawn in a soil that is mostly clay, there are ways to improve it without tilling up the lawn. If you are growing a lawn in a mostly Sandy, you can improve its water and nutrient holding capacity by adding compost or organic fertilizers. One especially useful ingredient for sand improvement is humic acid, which is basically the concentrated essence of organic matter. Check our our Nature's Magic which is 60% humic acid and is a fantastic soil improver for both clay and sandy soils.
9. If you had Crabgrass last year, there are plenty of things you can do to prevent it without using chemicals. Visit our All About Crabgrass page for more information.
10. If you fertilized in the mid-late fall, there is no reason to fertilize too early in the spring. The lawn should have plenty of food stored up for early spring growth. This growth helps thicken up the lawn and also helps crowd out incipient weeds and Crabgrass. If you did not fertilize in mid-late fall and the lawn is looking weak and thin, fertilize early to stimulate both the above and below ground growth that you want to have in the spring.
11. For Flowers, Veggies and Citrus. You can get much better crops by using foliar feeding to get the plants exactly what they need - when they need it. Start planning for a better harvest by reading this article: 4 Step Garden Fertilizing Program
Stuart Franklin is President of Nature’s Lawn & Garden, Inc. (https://www.natureslawn.com) a lawn fertilizing company and on line Web Store , located in the Buffalo, NY area. He is also the author of Building A Healthy Lawn: A Safe and Natural Approach (Storey Publications 1988)
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