Let's get ahead of the lawn. This is your reminder that March is lawn month. Not as in National Lawn Month (that's in April), but as in, time to get your lawn ducks in a row and make that lawn the dream of every summertime vision.
Weed and Feed or Seed?
First, decision time. Do you seed the lawn this spring, filling in the bare spots, or do you skip seeding (waiting until September), and weed and feed. If those bare spots will grow in spring rains and warmer weather, not becoming mud puddles in the yard, then skip the seeding and go for the weed and feed. If not, then seed.
- Test your soil for ph level (we do have sample kits). If the ph is too acidic, liming the lawn is necessary to give it a more neutral alkanlity. Grasses grow best in a neutral soil.
- Cool season grasses (fescue mixes) are used in Western North Carolina, and do best if seeded when temperatures are between 60-80°. The cooler nights, spring rains and shorter days are good for germination.
- Rake up the bare area, add a layer of compost (1/4" deep) and scatter seed, taping down with the back of the rack.
- Add another thin layer of compost to keep seed in place.
- Keep moist until germination, which means watering twice a day (top 1" of soil should stay moist).
- Germination takes 5-21 days.
- Don't use herbicides until the new grass has been mowed at least four times.
Weeding And Feeding The Lawn
- Use a pre-emergent, attacking weeds before they sprout and invade the lawn.
- Crabgrass is the first weed to show itself, and most spring preemergents target it. Pre-emergents prevent the germination of weed seeds, and have a slow release fertilizer and non-staining iron for a quick, greening up of the lawn.
- Spring isn't the only time to focus on weeding or fertilizing. As the season progresses, use herbicides that are specifically for broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, and fertilize, allowing the lawn to grow in, and naturally keep weeds out.
Mowing The Lawn
- Keeping the grass mowed consistently to the same height (3 1/2") helps shade weed seeds, and retain moisture.
- Mulch your clippings back into the soil after mowing (mow back over clippings) to give your soil an extra organic boost.
- When mowing new grass, wait until grass is 3 1/2" tall and sharpen the mower blade so you'll cut clean and not damage new grass blades.
- The rule of thumb for new and existing grass is to cut 1/3 of height and not more. Shorter is not better for your lawn. Instead, mow once a week, and keep it longer.
Keeping The Lawn Healthy And Green
- As the season continues, so does the lawn care.
- A simple approach is the Bonide Four-Phase product for use from spring to fall that will fertilize and combat certain weeds and insects during crucial times of the growing season. It makes lawn care easy by combining the herbicide and fertilizer in one. Four applications a year beginning in spring, and ending in fall, is perfect for a healthy lawn.
- Get your lawn on a schedule of weed and feed.
- Stay consistent with mowing and mulching.
These measures make lawn care easier in the end, and produce the lawn your feet will love. A little hard work in the beginning produces less effort in the end.
Written by Cinthia Milner, OSA, Garden Coach, and blog writer.
BB Barns serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina and Tennessee.