54 March 31, 2010

Well, it seems that we have run out of the month of March. We had record amounts of rainfall, and a very warm month. Hopefully, April will be better.

I have received a couple of questions from readers and the questions are very timely.

Chris had asked if there was a general calendar for lawn care in this area. The answer really has to do with the weather early in the season and later in the season; you can actually follow the dates on the calendar.

Early in the season, the weather will determine how your lawn responds. The soil needs to warm up before the lawn will begin to grow. I have seen years when early April will warm up enough that you can begin to fertilize the lawn. I have also seen years when it is early May before you can begin to fertilize the lawn. What you are looking for is blades of grass beginning to actively grow before you put fertilizer on your lawn.

As a rule of thumb, if you are using a 4-step program, the first step is usually a lawn fertilizer plus pre-emergent crabgrass control. This product is applied when the forsythia bushes are beginning to go by flower. The reason for this is that the crabgrass seed sprouts at about the same soil temperature that causes the forsythia to go by flower. As far as the calendar goes, this could be anywhere between April 10th to May 15th. It just depends on the weather.

The second application usually contains a weed killer. This product is applied when the weeds are actively growing. Again this could be anytime from late April to late May. The last 2 applications pretty much follow the calendar. You need to fertilize again about the first of September. This helps the lawn to recover from the heat of the summer. The 4th step is applied around mid-October. This helps the lawn to develop a stronger root system.

Lime is usually applied to the lawn in the spring or the fall. A ph test will tell you how much lime you need to apply.

This is a rough schedule for you to follow, Chris. If you have any more questions, please stop by the store.

Ian has a question about moss in the lawn. He has tried unsuccessfully to control the moss and to get the grass to grow in a shady lawn area. He was wondering if applying Round-Up would kill all the weeds and the moss and its spores and if it would be worthwhile to start the lawn all over again.

Moss needs acid soil to grow properly. It also needs shady conditions. It also needs a constantly damp soil. If you have 2 or more of these conditions in your yard moss will grow. From the e-mail I received, it would appear that Ian has many trees that shade the lawn. Those trees compete for food and water and they also help to make the soil acidic. It also sounds like there is a drainage problem or at the very least, the soil is hard packed. With all of these factors, it is no wonder that he cannot get the moss under control and to get the grass established.

First off, Round Up will not kill the moss or the spores. It will kill the weeds. What you need to do is to apply a moss killer to get the moss under control. You will then need to dig up the lawn area and add enough organic matter to improve the drainage and to provide a suitable growing medium for the roots of the grass. You then need to apply lime to the soil. At his point you can seed the lawn and you should have better luck at growing a lawn. You will have to do soil tests each year to test the acidity level of the soil. This will tell you how much lime to apply each year. The trees will also be robbing the soil of many nutrients. You will need to fertilize 5 to 6 times a year in the areas around the root zone of the trees. This will keep the grass growing.

If you have any more questions, Ian, please stop by the store.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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