Lush green lawns don’t happen without some serious help from the homeowner. Sure, grass may not die if not routinely cared for, but homeowners with a lawn-care schedule are the ones with the yards that are the envy of the neighborhood.
Spring is the perfect time to set about creating a lawn-care schedule. Stick to it and if it ever comes time to sell your home, its curb appeal will make it the belle of the local real estate market.
Early spring lawn care
After the gloom of winter, it’s tempting to want to jump outside and get started cleaning up what the season left behind. Tempting, yes. Wise, no.
Wait until the soil beneath the lawn is dry (or at least not sodden) and then get to work. Start by raking debris from the lawn. If it’s still a bit moist, work gently with a plastic leaf rake.
Grab a pocket knife and use it to dig out a plug from the lawn. Look particularly at the area of the plug between the soil and the grass. That layer is called thatch, a buildup of dead and living organic material between the soil and the grass blades.
If the thatch layer is more than ½-inch thick, the grass will end up rooting in that instead of the soil. This causes all kinds of problems, from making the lawn more susceptible to drought to providing safe haven for pests and disease organisms.
Dethatch the lawn by using a thatch rake. You can rent these at the big home improvement stores and learn how to use it by watching This Old House’s video at YouTube.com.
Avoid the crabgrass invasion
Crabgrass is that nasty, grassy weed that pops up when the weather warms and does its best to take over the lawn.
The best time to show crabgrass who’s boss is right now, before it shows up. Yup, it’s hiding under there, waiting for the just right time to pop from the soil.
And you can assert your bossiness by using a pre-emergent crabgrass control product. Not all of these products are safe to use on all grasses, so check the label to ensure it’s safe to use on yours.
Surflan is best for Buffalograss, for instance, since it doesn’t tolerate many of the herbicides on the market today. It’s even harder to find crabgrass control for St. Augustine lawns. Call the county extension office for ideas on what to use for our area and your specific grass type.
You’ll need a rotary spreader to apply pre-emergent weed treatment granules to the lawn and also for fertilizer application.
The first fertilizer application of the season
Wait until green-up has achieved at least 50 percent to apply your lawn’s first dose of fertilizer. Learn how to calculate how much fertilizer you need and how to apply it at YouTube.com.
If you plan on reseeding, you may want to wait until fall, but spring is the second-best time to do it. Ready for another video? Check out this one.
But, wait at least one month after fertilizing to reseed. And, if you’ve applied a weed killer, read the weed killer’s label to find out how long to wait to reseed.
Finally, mow the lawn. The first mowing of the season should be to 4 inches in height.
Now you can let the kids and pets out – that’s what lawns are for, right?
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