Your lawn is awake — now what?
That means homeowners are heading out to home centers earlier this year than last.
Regardless of the weather conditions where you live, there are certain steps you need to take as you plan your yard preparation this spring. Read on and we’ll take a closer look at six steps you can take this spring to ensure a beautiful lawn this summer:
1. Your state’s extension service — Better to follow local information than to follow general national advice, right? After all, the homeowner in Alabama would have a different set of requirements than the person living in Wisconsin. Your state’s cooperative extension system office can be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website. Click on the map to be brought to your state’s site for localized information.
2. Remove winter debris — If your lawn is dry, then now is the time to tackle the debris that has accumulated on your lawn these past few months. Leaves, twigs, matted grass and anything left on your lawn should be removed. Raking isn’t thatching, a separate task that can be handled with power equipment. If you don’t own a thatcher, an equipment rental store can be a good place to borrow one.
3. When to fertilize — This is where your state’s extension service can help out. In any case you’ll want to wait until after you have cut the lawn a few times before applying fertilizer. In Nebraska, that date is in late April or Early May according to the University of Nebraska Lincoln extension service.
4. Controlled release works best — When choosing a fertilizer, select one with a controlled release sometimes referenced as slow release or water insoluble nitrogen. These fertilizers work over time, gradually releasing nitrogen for improved and uniform lawn growth. On the other hand, if nitrogen is not evenly distributed, you could burn your lawn.
5. Careful with the herbicides — Before crabgrass shows up, you’ll want to treat your lawn with a pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide before crabgrass germinates. This means paying close attention to your lawn to apply the herbicide sooner rather than later. If you apply herbicide after the crabgrass has germinated, then you’ll find it useless in combatting established weeds. Lowe’s offers an excellent explanation on the two different types of herbicides available — systematic and contact — and when you should apply either one of these.
6. Spring seeding or not — If your lawn is in dire condition, you may need to reseed it to bring it back to its once beautiful condition. Take care here: your lawn may not have enough time to take hold before hot weather kicks in, the toughest time of the year for new lawns. If you can wait until fall, then your lawn will have more time to be established with weeds being less of a problem. Your extension service will likely advise you to reseed early in spring, once the cold weather has passed and well before summer’s heat sets in.
By the way, the professionals who work with your area’s extension service are supported by your tax dollars and their advice is free. You may need to pay a small fee for soil testing, a worthwhile project for any property with a distressed lawn. In my state, North Carolina, soil tests are provided at “no direct cost” to state residents because of funding the state takes in by charging a fee on commercial fertilizer.