Your yard may still be slightly brown, but April is days away and it just so happens to be the perfect time to get your yard in shape for summer. Spring is officially here and we can hope that the sub-40 temperatures are gone for good. Follow these five tips if you want your neighbors asking questions about your lawn.
1. Get out the Rake
The first step to getting your yard prepared to be lush and green is removing winter debris. Rake up the fallen branches, and remove any excess amounts of leaf debris that would kill the grass. This type of service is usually a part of what lawn care companies refer to as spring & fall cleanups
2. Aerate the Soil
Your lawn will only become as healthy as the soil that it sprouts from. Aerating your lawn is a simple process that is great for strengthening the turfgrass root system by reducing compaction, reducing thatch, and improving the accessibility of nutrients, giving your lawn a fresh start for the summer ahead.
Aeration is performed with a machine that punches holes in the lawn removing plugs of soil. These plugs are great for improving the soil to seed contact when you plan on overseeding. Using a broadcast spreader to put down seed after aerating will gradually improve & maintain turf density.
If your lawn is really suffering from thin and bare spots, an aeration combined with a slice seeding is the best remedy. Slice seeding further improves germination rates by further removing thatch and actually burying the seed in grooves made in the soil. The slice seeder offers the best seed to soil contact for faster results than overseeding
These machines can be rented, or you can hire a lawn care company like VOSS to perform the task for you around the same cost of renting the machine yourself. If you would like help with aeration or slice seeding, give us a call at 573-268-3947.
3. Tackle the Weeds
The battle to control weeds starts with a two-step process in the spring.
Crabgrass will not appear until June or July but it is very important to apply a pre-emergent long before then (post-emergent control of crabgrass is not very effective and much more costly). Therefore apply a pre-emergent with fertilizer at the earliest signs of warm weather when the actual germination process begins. The pre-emergent will also be a preventative measure towards stopping many of the broadleaf weeds and dandelions you see in April while feeding the turf grass as it awakens from winter time.
March is usually the best time in Missouri to start, but the tricky part is the mild weather we had this winter, keep in mind the preemergent will only stop what has not yet germinated. Therefore following up in April with a post-emergent application is essential. This second application, the post-emergent, will knock down any broadleaf weeds, dandelion, clover etc, that the first application missed.
Consult with a lawn care professional such as Voss for more information on how to improve and maintain your lawn through a consistent treatment plan.
4. Plan to Fertilize
Fertilizing your lawn gives the grass and soil the nutrients they need to sprout healthy, thick grass. Having weeds in your lawn such as clover is a tall tell sign of low nitrogen levels. Your lawn may be suffering but it is never too late to start taking steps to repair it. Even a healthy well-established lawn will benefit from a treatment program that includes aerating and fertilizing.
A majority of the grass species in Missouri are cool season turfgrasses and enjoy being fertilized heavily in the fall. Midsummer fertilizer applications should be lighter in nature and more focused on preventing diseases through grub control additives or amending the soil with organic products.
Consult with a lawn care professional such as Voss to discuss more fertilizing options and get started today with a custom plan that meets your budget.
5. Water & Mow Appropriately
A healthy balance of water on your lawn is critical for healthy grass. If you have an automatic sprinkler, the most appropriate time to water is the early morning hours. Watering overnight leaves the grass saturated for hours and increases the chance that various disease processes could occur. If you are watering by hand, pay attention to if it is supposed to rain in the following days or not. Overwatering is just as bad as not watering.
Mow at an appropriate height and frequency. Cool Season Turf species such as tall fescue want to be kept mowed between 3 and 4″ in height. The taller the grass the better. A taller established turf will crowd out the competition from weeds and better retain moisture during drought conditions. Mow the lawn weekly to keep up with the growth so excess thatch is not created. Waiting too long between cuts creates a big mess which turns into a heavy layer of thatch that can kill the grass underneath, or block out water and nutrients.
Following these steps is a great blueprint for having a healthy lawn. If you are thinking about adding irrigation to your lawn, or have any other questions, feel free to give us a call at 573-268-3947.