Posts Tagged ‘spring cleanup’

Spring in NH & VT, take action on your home lawn!

Spring is a time for action

Spring is a time for action

Maybe this is the year you have decided to take action and are simply not willing to accept the same old lawn you had in 2011.  If this is the year you have decided to act, then I have good news!  Your turf can look better, and with the right game plan, will provide enjoyment throughout the summer with visible monthly progress.  After all, why suffer through another year when this type of property improvement is generally fairly easy with predicable results?  The key to success is to just say yes, seek out professional help and get a game plan.  Once spring arrives, everyone gets busy and before long it’s July 4th or later!  Don’t let this spring slip away when so much good can be done to enhance your own lawn and property.

Spring is perhaps the most important time of the year to get your lawn on the road to improvement.  One big reason is looking into the future; do you want to enjoy the benefits sooner or later?  Later would be beginning in the fall, while sooner would be spring.  A damaged or thin lawn may require aggressive steps to help reclaim lost grass such as seeding, aerating, overseeding, or even crabgrass suppression to help get the ball rolling.  Waiting until fall gives the advantage to the enemy, like crabgrass, annual weeds, or even insects like grubs.  An idle lawn will remain just that, the same or worse as the year before without corrective measures.  Spring provides ideal grass growing weather due to moderate temperatures and ample moisture.  Cool-season grasses flourish in spring time weather like an athlete training for a race.  Not only must your lawn do well, it must do great in order to compete for light, water, space, and air in your home or commercial lawn.  This is competition pure and simple.

Just doing something will not do the trick.  Too much of a good thing can be bad as or worse than doing nothing at all.  The key is applying the right ingredients at the right time.  Picture in your mind making yeast bread with 5 times as much yeast as the recipe calls for- disaster!  Imagine this same concept when caring for a home lawn.  Some will put down ½ the required amount while others will easily double or triple the amount required.  Regardless of any burning or striping, the end results will be poor!  Take the guess work out of the equation and consider a professional to care for your property this season and spend your free time doing something fun instead!  This is the year to take action so you can feel good and your lawn will look great as well.

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Spring Lawn Checklist 2014

Goodbye winter, hello green!

The snow is mostly gone, you may even have a few lingering snow banks that refuse to leave, but for the most part, your lawn is begging for some attention.  Here is a handy spring checklist for your home lawn as you prepare for spring.

1. Plow damage.  It’s been a snowy, rough winter and if you had your driveway plowed, you are likely going to have plow damage.  Chunks of sod and lawn likely got plowed up along the edges and pushed further back onto your lawn.  These pieces of turf chunks may be close to their original location which is now just a scar in the dirt.  If possible, try to put the lawn puzzle back together and place the grass pieces back onto bare soil.  It may well be weeks before anything else can be done and during that time frame, those pieces of grass will start to break dormancy and grow.  Having them at least touching soil is better than mulching your unharmed lawn where they currently reside.  You can always move these grassy sections later and seed as needed into surrounding bare areas.

2. Debris. You may well find gravel, junks of asphalt, branches, leaves, and other debris that simply don’t belong on a grassy surface.  The sooner you can rake and remove this debris, the better.  If the debris is left in its current location, you may not see it during your first mow.  Nothing is more painful than hitting sticks, rocks, and gravel with your mower having been placed onto your lawn by a plow truck.  Leaves left in piles or allowed to matt, especially in shade, will simply mulch any existing grass depending upon its health and density.  The less debris the better.

3. Raking. There are two ways to rake a lawn, one is intentionally damaging- power raking/dethatching, the other is just plain hand raking or using a pull behind tractor implement.  I do not recommend power raking/dethatching unless the lawn has a severe, and by severe I mean a thatch problem- over 1” thick.  Most lawns do not have this kind of depth when it comes to thatch.  As a result, if the average lawn is power raked, it is actually damaged by the process of tearing and cutting.  Since the grass is dormant, and likely stressed by winter ice/snow/cold damage, power raking tears up roots and actually thins a lawn which in most cases is not a desired outcome.  If seeing piles of dead grass blades makes you feel warm inside, you might want to look at a coffee or hot cocoa instead, it certainly will do less damage to your lawn.  I have seen perfectly healthy lawns nearly destroyed by well intended landscapers, only to be called in to repair the damage by overseeding and other processes.  Stick with a hand rake and fluff the lawn up to help it warm and start to grow, or hire someone to do a spring cleanup which includes light raking.  If your lawn has a thatch issue, consider core aeration later in the spring or fall after it has recovered from winter damage.

4. Fertilizer/Crabgrass control. If you are going to use either fertilizer and crabgrass control blended together- don’t put it down too early.  A crabgrass barrier/inhibitor has a limited life span and can easily thin out turf already in a weakened state from winter.  Your best bet is to apply a plain balanced fertilizer to enhance recovery in April, than follow it up with a crabgrass inhibitor in May for maximum results.  This order will accomplish the best of both treatments while not subjecting your lawn to further stress, thinning, or damage.

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What large piles of snow mean to your lawn this spring.

Snow banks promote turf damage

Many are wondering what sort of impact so much snow will have on the average lawn come spring.  Generally, a decent snow cover protects your lawn from the drying winds and low temperatures common to winter weather.  However, if that same snow becomes compacted by use such as walking or driving; the grass can be damaged while in a dormant state.  Winter-kill or winter damage can often be attributed to ice formation or compaction through use.  New grass planted the prior season is especially vulnerable since it has not had a chance to mature which may result in thinning or dead patches from a harsh winter.

Snow mold is a more widespread problem resulting in various degrees of turf damage and thinning.  As snow banks recede and the weather warms in March, snow mold can thrive on the surface where the moisture level is just right and the temperature remains cool.  Snow mold has a tendency to matt down grass which is why a gentle raking is so important to help dry out the lawn surface once the sun comes out.  Improving the air circulation at the ground level and helping warm the soil through raking is a basic, yet important spring time task.

Grass which is severely stressed, or perhaps growing in the shade may in fact be further damaged by a pre-emergent crabgrass barrier while in a weakened state.  Most manufacturers of crabgrass barriers recommend a reduced rate or waiting until recovery has begun in May versus a March or April application.  In some situations, providing a basic natural or slow release fertilizer can speed up the recovery time as the soil warms and the material gradually takes effect versus a quick flush of growth from conventional fertilizers.  Since there are many variations to winter kill, ice damage, and snow mold within the same lawn and surrounding neighbors- a single solution is often not practical.  Each lawn should be evaluated individually, not treated with a cookie cutter approach where one product fits all situations.

So, before you apply a hundred pounds of fertilizer mixed with a crabgrass preventer this spring- consider the additional stress you may add to an already weakened lawn.  If you have thin or bare sections created from snow mold or winter kill, once that crabgrass barrier is down, there is no turning back and no seeding until fall.  There is a saying that goes something like “think twice, then think again, then act once” . . .

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