Men's Garden Club of Albany

Spring Lawn Care - Profit in Procrastination

Finally, here’s some good news. Despite the advertising you might hear/see, there’s very little need to work on your lawn in the spring with one possible exception. Here’s the inside scoop.

No need to fertilize – Mother Nature will take care of greening up your lawn. Father Scotts can rest in his hammock until fall. Why? The addition of significant amounts of nitrogen is not only unneeded, but actually results in extra luxuriant growth of the grass stalks at the expense of root growth. Come summer, grass with a smaller root system is much more susceptible to burn-out and insect damage. Not only that, but you’ll be cutting the lawn every 3 days instead of hitting the golf course. Wait until after Labor Day to apply fertilizer.

No need to lime unless you’ve tested the lawn for pH and the results show that the soil is acidic. Much of the soil in our area is either neutral or slightly alkaline, and adding lime will damage your lawn’s health. The optimal pH for grass lies between 6.0 and 6.8 (slightly acidic).

The spring is not the optimal time to reseed – wait until fall if you can. If you reseed in the spring, your emergent grass will be competing will all sorts of summer annual weeds. Better to wait until late August/early September when there are far fewer weeds to contend with.

Despite the temptation, do not put down broadleaf herbicides in the spring – delay this satisfying task until the fall. Broadleaf herbicides (which kill perennial weeds) are less effective in the spring because the weed plants are living off the energy stored in their prodigious roots (which means that the flow of nutrients is from the roots to leaves). The broadleaf herbicide will likely kill the above ground portion of the weed, but the root system will survive. Come summer/fall – surprise! They’re back! By applying the killing potion in the fall, the weed root will draw the lethal herbicide compounds down into the roots along with nutrients being stored for winter. This way you kill the roots and you’ll end up with far fewer dandelions and other delights come next spring.

Thinking of dethatching or aerating your lawn? Not surprisingly, the advice of lawn experts is to wait for fall.

However, if you had a crabgrass problem the previous year and you want to address the issue this year, then about the time the forsythia blooms begin to fade, put down some preemergence herbicide (follow the directions on the bag).

Look at that – saved you a bunch of unnecessary work and expense. With the time saved you can pay more attention to your flowers, vegetables and shrubs (or just perhaps, your significant other).

Author:Paul Zimmermann