One of the first questions I hear when spring is upon us is “what do I need to do to my lawn”. We have an obsession with our lawns in America and I want to pre-empt those questions with some answers. I spoke with Dr. AJ Powell with The Universtiy of Kentucky department of Agriculture. He is their guru of turf grass and he had the following advise:
- We had a very dry Fall for establishing new turf. If you need to thicken up the lawn or seed bare spots, it can be done the Spring by seeding tall fescue. You have to make sure that you get good contact between the seeds and the soil. If the soil is compacted make sure that you break it up to give the roots a better chance of taking hold. For generally poor cover, you can ren a dethatcher and use it to groove the soil and create voids for the seed to establish. After you seed bare spots you want to make sure to cover your seed with a 50% covering of straw (not hay, you will introduce weed seeds) to create some insulation for the seed. Keeping the soil surface wet is important for germination. Watering is especially important after a windy day; the wind will quickly dry out the surface of the soil where you most need it while esablishing seed. It will take around two weeks for tall fescue to start germinating now but that time will shorten as the weather warms up.
- Fall is the best time to fertilize your turf but if you did not have the chance then you can go ahead and fertilize lightly now.
- April 15th, that’s the magic date to make sure you have your crab grass pre-emergent down by. If you had a very heavy infestation of crabgrass last year, then you will need another application by late May early June. If you still have some crab grass come June you can spray it with a post-emergent crabgrass herbicide. Also look for the product with as little Nitrogen mixed in with it as possible(0-0-6 is ideal). The thinner your turf is the more prone you are to weeds and invasives, so make sure to get the seeding done now to help you a little later in the season. If you had white grub problems on your bluegrass lawn last year, then consider waiting unil June or July to apply a preventative grubicide.
- As soon as you start to see your broadleaf weeds (I’m seeing them now) go ahead and use your broadleaf herbicide. You can spot treat these throughout the year.
- Now is also the time to consider aerating your lawn. I have a personal preference for core aeration, make sure to leave the cores on your lawn afterward they will break down with time and as you start to mow.
These tips from Dr. Powell should help you get a great start as we head into Spring. If you have any further questions you can always contact me.