As we move into spring, days are getting longer and warmer, and once again lawns in the Washington area are turning green and starting another season of growth. Behnke’s is offering a few simple tips to get your lawn off to a great start this Spring.
Lawn Care Fertilizer
Spring is not a good time to fertilize the lawn, for several reasons. Fall is the ideal time to apply lawn fertilizers, while fertilizers applied in spring will only encourage a burst of lush top growth that is more susceptible to disease and insect damage. Lawns fertilized in spring are also more susceptible to drought because it encourages only top growth and not a healthy root system. Also, broadleaf weeds and crabgrass will thrive on an early spring fertilizer application.
Herbicides For Your Lawn
As was noted in an earlier email tip, early spring, just as the forsythia is coming into bloom, is the ideal time to apply pre-emergents in order to control crabgrass. Broadleaf weeds are better controlled as they just begin to grow in early May. **NOTE** If you live in Montgomery County, Maryland please read about the changes in the law since this article was written. Everyone should check first with their own state and county laws before using herbicides.
Spring is an excellent time to apply lime if your soil pH is too low. As always, it is important to have your soil tested through the cooperative extension service or with a simple pH test kit available at Behnke’s. **NOTE** Behnke Nurseries closed in 2019. You can purchase a soil testing kit with our online partner here or at most local independent garden centers. Maintaining a soil pH of 6.0-7.0 will make soil nutrients more readily available for uptake by the grass, thus ensuring a healthier lawn. Most types of lime are fine for the lawn, but pellet lime may be easier to apply for the homeowner.
Seeding Your Lawn
Although fall is the best time to seed a lawn, early spring is a fine time to over-seed thinning or bare spots in your lawn. Remove thatch and debris from the area to be seeded with a steel rake, disturbing the soil to ensure good contact with the grass seed, and apply the seed at the recommended rate. New grass will need to be watered regularly until it becomes established.
Mowing Your Lawn
As your lawn begins to grow and requires cutting, it is important to remember not to cut it too short. Three inches is ideal for most lawns, although zoysia and Bermuda grass should be cut shorter, on the order of 1.5-2″. Leaving grass longer and mowing frequently will make for a much healthier lawn than cutting the lawn shorter and mowing less frequently. Taller lawns are more drought-resistant, and the tall grass blades will discourage weed growth. You may also want to consider letting your grass clippings remain on the lawn. The clippings decompose very quickly and are an excellent source of nitrogen.