Landscape Information

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Spring Lawncare

Date: Spring 2016 Posted by: Rohan Harrison - Turf Management

'R' WE THERE YET?
It is spring and time to shed the winter blues with gardening and lawn improvements chores in April. Retailers even encourage us to do so by stacking lawn fertilizer in front of their stores and Garden centers.

Because of these promptings, many people assume April is the best time to fertilize and overseed lawns. However, hold it! There is one important criteria that MUST be met before deciding to fertilized or overseed - the correct temperature.

This is the main reason why "WE MAY NOT HAVE BEEN THERE YET" or why all D.I.Y. SHOULD read on.

We have just been through one of the mildest winter in recent landscaping history!

FERTLIZING
Actually, the best time to apply fertilizer in spring is when soil temperatures have warmed and the grass plant is actively growing. Fertilizing too early or before soil temperature reaches the ideal range, may be detrimental to the long-term health of the lawn. Sure you'll get expedited top growth and a beautiful lush appearance, but at what cost? Spring fertilization can discourage grass from storing food reserves for the hard times to come during the summer, because the turf may grow too fast, before roots can grow to support the lawn. This makes a lawn less tolerant of summer heat. This lush, succulent growth encouraged by early spring fertilization makes the plant more susceptible to insects and diseases.

We do not want to promote "top-growth" (leaves) at the expenses of root growth! Ideally, fertilizer application should be done when the roots break dormancy and begin growing. The roots of cool-season grasses grow best between 12o - 18oC (54o- 65o F).

For crabgrass control, application of any product with a light fertilizer content after the forsythia has bloomed but before the dandelions go to the "puff ball" stage is encouraged. Usually, these products only have a small amount of fertilizer, and not considered a full "feeding". Crabgrass seeds start to germinate when the soil temperature reaches 10o - 14oC (50o- 58o F).

SEEDING
If the soil is too cool, germination is delayed, which results in seed damage and uneven or inadequate seeding emergence. Spring seeding should not begin until soil temperature at seeding depth reaches or exceeds the required minimum which is at 12oC (55oF). If you have spread grass seed in the early spring, germination will be compromised until the soil temperature reaches about 15oC (59oF). It is important to note that soil temperatures at 2" below ground must have reached 58-65 degrees Fahrenheit or 15-18 degrees Celsius to achieve proper germination.

AERATION
Aerating your lawn make it easier for water and nutrients to reach the roots of your turf , by reducing thatch, loosen up compacted soils. It also provides an oxygen-rich environment. However, aeration should be done when the roots can benefit - actively growing.

For cool season grasses in particular, the ideal soil temperatures for aeration should be between 10-18oC (50 - 65oF) range.

So if "WE ARE NOT THERE YET" do the Canadian thing, and blame it on the weather :(