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This spring we need to clue into nature's cues instead of our calendar of 'normal'. One of the easiest to remember has to do with the forsythia shown above. When the forsythia begins to drop is yellow flowers, the soil temperature is just right for dormant crabgrass seed to germinate. This is your cue to apply a crabgrass control product - one without fertilizer is best. Wait until the end of May to fertilize your lawn.
If you intend to reseed your lawn, do NOT apply a crabgrass preventer unless you are willing to wait until fall to sow.
Other cues from nature:
When the crabapple trees are blooming, put out your oriole feeders.
When the lilacs bloom, the hummingbirds will be here looking for their favorite feeding spots.
Seeding your lawn?
Here are tips from our friends at Heritage Seed Company:
Renovating- if your lawn is more than 50% weeds and dead grass, it is best to eliminate all living matter by using a non-selective herbicide such as KillzAll.
Overseeding- if your lawn is less than 50% dead grass and weeds and your existing lawn is thin:
1. Remove all excess debris and assess your lawn identifying spots that need reseeding.
2. If soil is compacted or has a half inch or more of thatch buildup, core aerate area to break up the thatch layer and to loosen the soil so the roots can better absorb moisture and nutrients. The cores should be 2-3 inches deep and 3 inches apart. Aerators are available at many hardware, garden centers and rental stores.
3. For overseeding, plant grass seed with a slit seeder 1/8 inch deep. Seed to soil contact is very important for success. Do not plant seed more than 1/4 inch deep.
4. When seeding bare spots, loosen soil to 1/2 inch with a rake, spread seed and gently rake seed into the soil. Cover with straw or pelletized mulch on sloped areas. The earlier in spring you reseed the area, the better jump you will get on weed growth.
5. New seeding of large areas, will have best results by planting your lawnseed at half the rate each in a north/south then an east/west direction. This will give you a uniform blanket of grass.
6. Apply a starter fertilizer at the rate of 3-4 lbs/1000 Sq. Ft.
7. Apply irrigation daily so the top ½ inch of soil stays moist until the area is mowed one time. Minimum of 4 weeks of daily irrigation to allow Kentucky Bluegrass to germinate. When the area is mowed once, irrigation should be applied less frequently at higher rates to get the root system to grow deeper.
8. Begin mowing once the first seedlings reach a height of 2 to 2 ½ inches to allow light to reach the slower germinating species. When overseeding, continue to mow the existing lawn at 2 to 2 ½ inches. After 6 weeks, raise mowing height to 2 ½ to 3 inches. Never mow more than 1/3 of the leaf blade in a mowing.
*Mower blades should be freshly sharpened every spring to prevent tearing and ripping out of the ground of new seedlings by dull mower blades.
9. Never apply crabgrass or broadleaf weed control products to newly seeded or reseeded areas until they have been mowed at least three times.