Friday, Jun 22, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Amy Stone

Give lawns a good start in springtime

The spring rain and sun might put you in the mood to do some yard work. Here's a list of spring lawn tips.

DON'T agree to have the lawn aerated or dethatched. Mike Reynolds, manager at Black Diamond Lawn Service in Toledo, says now is not the time to put extra stress on the turf. "Some lawn-care companies may recommend it, but it's only because they have the equipment and want to add to their bottom line."

DO aerate or dethatch in the fall. Aeration takes a thumb-size core of soil out of the turf and helps get some oxygen into the soil and revitalize compacted areas. Thatch is a buildup of roots at the root line of the turf, and it will choke out new growth. "A new bluegrass lawn should be dethatched after five years, and then every year after that because thatch builds up easily," Mr. Reynolds says. Turf such as fescue is more resistant to thatch buildup, he says, and should be dethatched only when the turf starts to look thin.

DON'T roll a lawn if it has clay soil. Think of soil as a sponge. It has been soaking up moisture and has some high spots. Once the temperatures get warmer, the soil will flatten out. Ohio State University Scientists say rolling a lawn too often can lead to compaction.

DO roll a lawn if it has a lot of raised areas. "Sometimes earthworms leave mounds in clay soil and some homeowners like to roll over the mole runs if they have sandy soil," Mr. Reynolds says.

DON'T spray for broadleaf weeds like dandelions yet. Save that bit of work for May.

DO treat lawns for crabgrass. The ground temperature needs to be around 50 degrees for the crabgrass seeds to sprout. You have until tax day, April 15, to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to stop crabgrass from taking hold.

DON'T bag grass clippings. Ohio State University Scientists recommend leaving clippings on the turf to feed it with natural nitrogen. The composting clippings will also help break down thickening roots to help prevent thatch buildup.

DO bag clippings if you have a heavy infestation of crabgrass. Mr. Reynolds says it's a numbers game when it comes to crabgrass. "One plant can make over a thousand seeds," he says. "Bag the clippings and carry the crabgrass seeds and their problems along with it." Mr. Reynolds says you don't have to bag clippings all year long, but it is a good idea to bag them when any weed seeds are being dropped.

DON'T overwater lawns. The soil is waking up slowly and the ground temperature is creeping up. Watering during the spring can cause more problems down the road for plants. Mr. Reynolds says many lawns have been hit with snow mold.

"This is one of the worst seasons for snow mold and one of the worst winters some have seen in 40 years," he says. Additional moisture could spread fungus and bacteria to other parts of the lawn.

DO water lawns, but let Mother Nature help. If you are fixing or establishing a new lawn, try to work with the weather. Seed the area just before a mild rain is expected. Fertilize the lawn while you are overseeding and get more bang for your buck.

DON'T forget to sharpen the blades on your mower and DO mow the grass lower than usual the first time. Cutting it closer will get rid of dead tips and the lawn will look green in no time.

DON'T forget to take a picture of the spring lawn for your garden journal and DO make that wish list because we have a great growing season coming just around the corner!

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