After a long winter, it’s time to step outside and take a long look at the lawn. Most gardeners won’t like what they see.
While some lawns will look thick and green, thanks to that routine fall fertilizing, other lawns will need some help. To get the turf back on track means raking, aerating, weeding, reseeding, fertilizing, and watering. Fortunately it doesn’t all have to be done on the same warm spring day.
1. Grab a rake. Remove dead grass, fallen leaves and other debris from the lawn. If your lawn shows signs of thatch, like brown spots and general thinning, it may be time to use a power rake to lightly go over the lawn. The rake will remove the layer of built-up organic matter that sits between the leaf zone and the soil, usually caused by compacted soil.
2. Aerate the soil. Invigorate the lawn by aerating, also called core cultivation. Aerating reduces soil compaction, improves water infiltration, encourages root growth, and helps with seed germination. Rent a machine or hire a lawn crew to pull plugs of grass at regular intervals over the lawn surface. Be sure to leave the plugs on the lawn to decompose and help fertilize the lawn.
3. Manage weeds. It’s best to tackle grassy weeds, like crabgrass, with a pre-emergent herbicide in spring after the soil has warmed. With proper timing, one application will eliminate these troublesome weeds all summer long. It’s better to apply pre-emergent herbicides sooner rather than later. Apply either before or after aeration and water in well.
Because most pre-emergent herbicides can also kill germinating grass seed, delay adding grass seed to the lawn until late summer or early fall.
4. Add grass seed. The best way to keep the lawn healthy and weed free is to encourage thick growth. Apply a good quality, compatible grass seed after the lawn is aerated to give maximum seed-to-soil contact and to improve seed germination. Keep the seed moist, but avoid saturating the grass. It will take about 10-14 days for seeds to sprout.
5. Fertilize. Fertilizers add the nutrients your blue-grass lawn needs. Nitrogen is especially important if you want a thick green lawn. Use a balanced fertilizer that has nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron and sulfur. April is a good time to fertilize, especially if no fertilizing was done in fall.
For all the top turf tips, including how to handle dog spots in the lawn, visit CSU’s Turf Program website.
Now, what tips do you have for celebrating National Lawn Care Month?