There is excitement in the air as day time temperatures rise past the 40’s and into the 50’s with the promise of spring. Crusty old snow banks shrink each day, exposing the edge of sidewalks, roads, mulch beds, and yes lawns! The first glimpse of once proud green grass can choke up even the hardiest of New Englanders. Let’s face it, winter takes a toll on our mental state and even a few hours of sun and green can turn the worst mood around fast.
Spring can be confusing though, especially with all of the advertisements from the big chain stores like Home Depot or Lowes. These big boys double or triple there employment and bring in all kinds of supplies to fill up the garden department. Pallets arrive by the truck load and are stacked up in tidy rows yielding multiple selections of colored mulch, fertilizers, decorative stone, lime, topsoil and much more. Did someone mention new tools? Who doesn’t love a new shovel or rake? I mean come on! Then there are the accessories like bird feeders, edging, lamps, tiki torches, and fencing. The flowers in baskets and pots draw in even the most hardened shopper like a moth to an outdoor light at night.
While the selection is delightful at these kinds of stores, what commonly is absent is turf knowledge, practical knowledge which applies to your piece of American pie. Picture yourself standing in front of 6 pallets containing different fertilizers, never mind lime or other materials. Most of these bags will contain fertilizer mixed with a variety of herbicides or insecticides, some not appropriate for the time of year or the needs of your lawn. These lawn products generally specify how much they treat in square footage, which can be handy. However, most materials have a range from “low to heavy” depending upon the rate required. A lot of the square footage can be based on the low range, which may or may not be what is required at your home. In other words, you may put down too much or too little for the job which can lead to damaging your existing lawn, turf thinning, poor weed control or a host of other issues.
Surrounding water such as lakes, ponds, and rivers are sensitive areas which must be taken into consideration when applying lawn care materials. While the laws in NH allow a home owner to apply a variety of products in a turf setting, the same rules apply. Be sure not to apply ANY fertilizer within 25ft of a pond or lake. Compost tea and lime may be applied within the 25ft range. From 25ft to 50ft you must use a low phosphate, slow release fertilizer containing NO WEED or INSECT control. This is very important in order to preserve the quality of the surrounding water and wildlife. While turf is important and does act as a filter, circumventing or not obeying the law will only cause issues down the road. Remember, more homeowners treat their own lawn then professionals such as our company. The impact and risk to a body of water is much higher with homeowners considering the hundreds of houses along lakes and rivers within NH, never mind VT.
Before you buy 200lbs of something and apply it some weekend morning; be sure you are comfortable with the prospect of decent results, the cost of the material, your time, and the potential outcome of wasting all of the above.