Monday, March 22, 2010
Early Spring Lawn Care
We had a few people at the Garden Show ask us about some funky white-gray substance they saw in their yards. One man likened it to dissolving toilet tissue. This is snow mold. Snow mold is caused when there is an extended period of snow cover on ground that is not completely frozen. We had prime conditions for snow mold this year. Although it can look really nasty in the early spring, most snow mold damage will recover in time. Once the area has dried the turf will grow out and renew itself. To speed up the process, the infected area can be lightly raked to encourage drying. Some over-seeding may be necessary and if the damage is extremely severe.
Another question we are frequently asked this time of year: "When is the best time to apply spring fertilizer?". The answers vary widely depending on grass type and the local climate. However, from my research, all experts seem to agree that applying fertilizer too early in the season is not effective. When is too early? The local ISU Extension office recommends waiting at least until after April 1st. Here is another timing tip I found at about.com that I have also heard from many old-timers in the area: "Applying pre-emergent herbicides should be done sometime between the time the local forsythia bushes stop blooming and the time the local lilac bushes begin blooming."
One of the best things you can do for your lawn, besides a good spring raking, is to have good, sharp lawn mower blades. If you have did not have your lawn mower blades sharpened over the winter get out there and get it done before you need to mow. Dull blades have a tendency to rip grass blades instead of cutting cleanly, leaving grass susceptible to diseases. A good, sharp mower blade is a simple step to a healthier lawn. When your lawn does require that first mow be sure not to cut it too short. Spring mow height should be around 2", you should never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time. This is particularly critical as the weather gets warmer.
Have a great week. The weather looks like it should be a good week to start that spring yard clean up!