The noisy rumble of a lawn mower, the fresh look of a nicely cared-for yard: These are the signs that spring has arrived for our fields of green. Now that the days are warm and the sun is bright, many gardeners are tending to their yards and gardens. Here's a step-by-step calendar for caring for a cool season - Bluegrass or tall fescue - lawn:
Spot-treat broadleaf weeds with a liquid herbicide. Spray on a day that is 50 degrees or warmer. Rain or irrigation within 24 hours of application will reduce effectiveness. Begin mowing using a sharp blade and the mower set to 3 inches high.
Apply crabgrass preventer when redbud trees are in full bloom. Preventer needs to be watered in before it will start to work. Remember that a good, thick lawn is the best weed preventer and may be all that is needed.
Fertilize with a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Apply 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Time the application with a rain or water it in. Use a liquid herbicide to spot spray for broadleaf weeds. Remember, rain or irrigation within 24 hours of application will reduce effectiveness.
Apply a second round of crabgrass preventer by June 15 unless you have used Dimension (dithiopyr) or Barricade (prodiamine) for the April application. These two products normally provide season-long control with a single application. Remember to water it in. If grubs have been a problem in the past, apply a product containing "Merit" or "Mach 2" during the first half of July. This works as a grub preventer. It must be watered in before it becomes active. Sharpen the mower blade and raise the mowing height by a half-inch.
Fertilize around Labor Day. This is the most important fertilization of the year. Apply 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Water the fertilizer in. Likewise, core aerate and overseed the lawn using quality grass seed at the rate of 3 to 5 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn.
Make one last application of fertilizer. Use a nitrogen only or a high-nitrogen, low-phosphorous, low-potassium fertilizer. This fertilizer is taken up by the roots but is not used until the following spring. Water well. Spray for winter annual broadleaf weeds if they are a problem. Spray on a day that is at least 50 degrees. Rain or irrigation within 24 hours reduces effectiveness.