Spring is the ideal time to spruce up your lawn. After a long winter, you can easily see where any bald, bare or thin patches exist, as well as where weeds or fungus may be taking over the lawn. Fortunately, there are easy ways to set your lawn to rights!
If you are planning to seed a new lawn or overseed an existing lawn, it is best to seed as early as possible. It is important to get seed germinated and growing before trees begin to leaf out, when the trees will be usurping more of the soil’s moisture and nutrition and new leaves will block sunlight from the grass seed. This is especially true in more heavily shaded areas. Keep the area moist at all times until the roots of grass seed become established, then you can gradually decrease the frequency of watering. The new grass can be mowed when it reaches a height of about three inches.
Rejuvenating a Weak Lawn
Your lawn cannot live without air, water and nutrients, but decaying material matted down between grass blades can smother even the healthiest-looking lawn. This decaying material is called thatch, and when a thick layer of thatch builds up, water and fertilizer may run off instead of penetrating the soil. Applying Humates, aerating, and dethatching can help rejuvenate a lawn by restoring passageways to the soil. Spring is an excellent time to dethatch cool-season grasses. Thatching rakes can be used, or you can use a metal rake to remove thatch by hand. Humates will help speed up the natural decomposition of the thatch.
The pH of your soil has a direct impact on the health of your lawn. Test your soil to determine the pH (simple kits are available to do this). We recommend a small handful of soil taken from a depth of 3 inches to get the most accurate reading. At a pH of 6.8-7.0 nutrients are most readily available to turf grasses, and beneficial microorganisms are more active to decompose thatch and keep the soil structure healthy. If your pH is too low or too high, consider amending the soil as needed to help bring it to a more desirable level.
Fertilizer and Weed Control
On established lawns that you are not overseeding, apply Sunnyside Gardens 16-16-8 fertilizer in early to mid-April. Remember, crabgrass and other annual weed seeds start to germinate when the soil temperature reaches 50-58 degrees. Use a pre-emergent like Dimension for crabgrass control on an established lawn.
On newly seeded lawns and those seeded in late fall or during the winter months, use a starter fertilizer like Sunnyside Gardens 8-16-8. You will need to reapply in four to six weeks.
Maintaining your lawn at a higher level will allow you to control weeds without the use of chemicals. Broadleaf weed sprays can be used to kill weeds as they appear.
An application of Bonide Grub and Insect Control Granules in May and again in July or a similar insecticide will provide effective white grub and billbug control for the growing season. This preventative method tends to give better results than applying insecticides when you notice damage as it then may be too late. If you have routinely had problems with other insects, opt for products specifically targeted for those pests to ensure effective control.
A lot goes into having a lush, healthy lawn, but if you take the appropriate steps to rejuvenate your lawn in spring, you’ll be rewarded with thick, healthy, resilient turf to enjoy from early spring until snow flies again.