Spring is technically only a mere 4 weeks away on the calendar! Although you are not likely to be planting any vegetables or flowers outdoors close to March 20th, the countdown to spring is on. In the world of grass, those pesky snow banks are likely to linger well into April in our geographic region. One can almost taste that first day when the air temperature reaches the mid or upper 50’s only to be surrounded by dark, crusty black snow banks. Your first instinct may be to grab a rake and cleanup some of the debris left by winter wind and snow plows. Raking even a small portion of your lawn can be therapeutic, signaling the end of white and the beginning of green.
Further raking will assist in air circulation and a drying of the lawn surface where snow mold, ice, and mice may have caused damage. Removal of surface debris such as gravel, leaves, and branches will allow sunlight to warm the soil which will in turn stimulate green leaf blades in your lawn. You may find mole hills as they search for insects and their favorite meal worms- in the top 6 inches of the soil.
Be careful not to apply a crabgrass barrier too soon or at a heavy rate in the spring to damaged or diseased turf. Such an application can have an adverse affect on recovery and spring seeding/repair plans. In addition, an early crabgrass barrier will run out of steam that much earlier in the summer, potentially giving rise to annual weeds and crabgrass in July. One option is to lightly fertilize with a compost tea, sea kelp, or a pure blend of straight fertilizer to enhance recovery in April. If “crabgrass control” is still a necessity, you still have plenty of time in May to apply such a product and maintain decent suppression. As always, the best defense against crabgrass or even broadleaf weeds is a thick, healthy lawn resulting from proper cultural techniques in addition to turf health care treatments.
If you have not aerated your lawn in the past few years, or don’t even know what core aeration is, consider aerating this spring. Core aeration is an effective way to help reduce compaction/thatch while increasing air, moisture, and nutrient availability to the lawn. Heavy duty commercial grade aerators do a marvelous job at removing plugs and depositing them on the surface due to their heavy weight and large tines. Overseeding after an aeration is a terrific time to thicken up those thin or weak areas in your lawn.