Give your grass a little TLC
Spring is the time to give your lawn a little tender loving care if you want to enjoy a lush green carpet of grass in the summer.
“There are several things you should get done,” said Bill Hayes, a member of the Aiken Master Gardener Association and a former president of the organization.
Before now, according to Hayes, you should have finished a complete cleanup of your yard and treated your lawn with a pre-emergence herbicide to prevent summer weeds.
“At the end of February or the first of March, you should remove the pine cones, pine straw, dog poop and anything else from your yard that would prevent the pre-emergence herbicide from going down into the lawn,” he said.
Soil temperature determines w hen to apply the pre-emergence herbicide
“You should get it down before the temperatures reach 55 degrees for four consecutive days because that’s when crabgrass and other weeds start to germinate (emerge from their seeds),” he said
You can find information about soil temperature on the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network’s website (www.georgiaweather.net). The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences operates the network.
“You should look at either the Clark’s Hill location or the Dearing (Ga.) location, which are comparable to Aiken,” Hayes said.
If you haven’t cleaned up your yard or treated the lawn with a pre-emergence herbicide yet, Hayes recommended doing both as soon as possible.
“It’s not too late because seeds are going to be germinating all year long,” he said. “Don’t rake your yard after you put down the herbicide because it only puts down a membrane across the top of the soil. If you start raking it, you will break up the membrane, and the weeds will find their way through the openings.”
Now is a good time to get your lawnmower tuned up, according to Hayes.
“You can take it to a small engine shop; there are probably a half-dozen such shops around Aiken,” he said.
Hayes also suggested buying a spare lawnmower blade.
“You should sharpen your lawnmower blade about every fourth cut,” he said. “Take the original blade out, put the spare blade in, get a file out and sharpen up the original blade. When you use a dull blade, you don’t cut grass; you bludgeon it. You tear it up, and that’s an entry point for infection.”
Hayes also suggested treating your lawn with a preventative fungicide now if you didn’t do it last fall.
“We’ve had a lot of rain, and some of the hard rains we’ve had keep the moisture in the ground,” he said. “As the temperatures rise, fungus will start to grow.”
Another important spring task involves looking over and testing your lawn irrigation system.
“Turn on each zone and make sure all the sprinkler heads are working and that they’re covering the areas they’re supposed to cover,” Hayes said. “You also should make sure there aren’t any burned out solenoid valves in the ground. Make the repairs now or get someone to help you do that.”
Hayes’ final piece of advice was to wait until the first or second week of May to start fertilizing your lawn.
Before then the soil temperature is “too cold” for the nitrogen to be effective, so “you are wasting your money,” Hayes said.