Early Spring Lawn Care
Every spring, Mother Nature gives plant life a chance to start over. The winter season has been a long time out. It’s the first weekend in March, and now there is a chance to begin anew. Gardeners and homeowners can’t make spring come one day sooner, but they can be prepared for an early start with Uncle’s spring lawn care tips.
Lawn Tips for Early March:
- First, remove any heavy debris such as piles of leaves and fallen branches.
- Second, mow the lawn short: Lower your mower deck one or two notches. Be careful not to scalp your lawn. Remove grass clippings by bagging or raking to improve air circulation. This low mow will cut off the brown winter-damaged tips and open up the soil to the warm spring sunlight.
- Third, give the lawn a booster shot of spring fertilizer. Golf Course Starter or Loveland Renovator formula will start the rejuvenation process four weeks early and help lawns thicken and fill in ahead of summer weeds and hot weather.
- Fourth, overseed any bare spots bigger than a salad plate with weed-free grass seed and top dress with PrimeraOne Sports Field Conditioner or sphagnum peat. Do not use topsoil or bagged compost to top-dress weed-free grass seed. Topsoil contains coarse weed and sedge seeds.
- Fifth, water when you are able. Water deep once or twice per week till normal spring rains arrive. Uncle’s tip: Don’t forget to disconnect the hose from the faucet. A mid-spring spring hard freeze is very possible.
What is Winter Kill?
Winter kill describes severe damage or death incurred by turfgrass during the winter months. Its initial signs are patches of lawn that remain brown or bare after the lawn typically returns to healthy green growth in the spring. Winter-kill in turf can happen from many natural events. Extreme cold and dry winters can cause leaf desiccation. Crown freeze can occur in early spring when freezing temperatures follow multiple days of warm weather. Repairing widespread winter damage will require overseeding.
Can I Seed My Lawn This Spring?
Yes! Winter weather is Mother Nature’s soil aerator. Spring thawing and frost heave open cracks in the soil that let in air and moisture. These cracks make March an ideal time to apply grass seed, fertilizer, lawn calcium, and lime. Early March is perfect for overseeding shady areas under trees before the spring leaves arrive. Cool-season grasses like fescue and bluegrass lawns can be overseeded now. Grass seed mixes like Macho Mix fescue or Estate Mix bluegrass are ideal for early spring lawn renovations. If you have a house or rental property that needs a makeover in the front yard, look for Stadium Special perennial ryegrass. Stadium Special is first aid for distressed real estate or a play area where kids and dogs have torn up the playfield.
See Related: How to overseed your lawn in spring.
Repairing Areas Where the Dogs & Kids Play
Traffic areas along patios, sidewalks and fences can be of concern for parents and pet-lovers. Heavy and continuous traffic over moist soil can cause severe compaction making it difficult for grass to establish. Spring is an excellent time to begin a long-term solution to fixing soil compaction and keep grass growing and mud out.
See Related: How to Fix Soil Compaction
Will Ice Melting Salt Damage My Turf?
Yes, repeated use of ice melters containing salts will create high saline content in the soil. Using routine applications of lawn calcium over areas and zones that can collect run-off from sidewalks, roads, and driveways will help to reduce turf and plant damage caused by road salts and ice melters.
See Related: How to Reduce Salt Damage in Turf with Lawn Cal
Is It Too early to Apply Crabgrass Pre-emergent?
Well, that would depend on your schedule and Mother Nature. As a rule, Uncle recommends Mid-March to Mid-April (tax day) to apply the first application of Prevent for crabgrass. Our goal is to use pre-emergent at a time when the crabgrass is actively starting to grow. The crabgrass preventer is not effective until the weed begins to germinate. To extend the seasonal control further into the weed growing season, Uncle recommends waiting.
See Related: When to Apply Prevent
Why Lawn Companies Apply Pre-emergent Earlier than DIY’ers.
Lawn companies have hundreds and thousands of accounts to manage in the early spring. Those companies can not wait for the perfect week in April. They are forced to apply early to service all their customers, which means they will be forced to spread their second application early. Pre-emergent used too early leaves too much summer at the end of the herbicide and may require using a third application of pre-emergent or post-emergent crabgrass control. The DIY homeowner has the luxury of waiting for Mother Nature’s sweet spot and extending the pre-emergent barrier well past the summer months when it is needed.