Spring Lawn Care with John
This winter has been, to put it lightly, brutal, but that isn't news to you. What might be surprising to hear is that this winter has been just as difficult on your lawn as it has been on you. Now that the snow is melting and those little green tufts are starting to peek their way through, it is time to start thinking about helping your lawn recover and prepare it to thrive, now that we are on our way to a beautiful, Midwest summer. Furthermore, a lush lawn is pivotal to resale, as it acts as a Buyer’s first impression of your home. Curb appeal is the easiest and best way show Buyers that you take pride in your home, and make the effort to maintain it well. Here to help you prepare is John Ramkey, the Buell Group's self-proclaimed "Lawn Care Pro."
1. Clean it up
As soon as the snow melts completely, be sure to remove all items that may be left over from Fall, or fell onto the lawn during the wintertime from the lawn (leaves, sticks, ornaments, etc). Our goal is to avoid letting anything smother the cute little green plants, as the grass needs air, light, and warmth. After you have gently raked off all the debris, make a point to avoid walking on the lawn, because the grass shoots are still quite fragile, and continued tread on it can cause damage.
After taking the time to do a clean sweep of your yard, you’ll need to wait a bit before fully moving forward. The ground is still frozen and won't absorb what it needs to give you a great and beautiful lawn until the in-ground temperature is above 45 degrees. In addition to no absorption, anything you put on your lawn at this time [fertilizer, seed, or herbicide, etc] will run off and go right into the city groundwater or will just sit on top and "burn" your lawn, causing more damage than winter could ever do.
3. Organic Fertilizer
Once the ground is thawed and up to proper temperature, you can start the program. I recommend organic fertilizer: anything with a 4-4-0 to 6-4-0 ratio and is marketed as slow release. These types of fertilizers take the calculation and risk of damaging your lawn due to over-fertilization out of the equation. A 36lb of Milorganite, my personal favorite brand of fertilizer, should cover roughly 2500 sq ft.
4. To Seed or Not to Seed?
Once your fertilizer is down, you are faced with a question: to seed or not to seed? If your yard is fairly covered in turf grass, your best bet is to purchase and spread a preemergent herbicide. Preemergent herbicides have an enzyme that counteracts growth in the seed of any plant trying to grow in your yard, but it does not affect any plant that has already sprouted. Thus, the grass that is already rooted is safe and the crabgrass and dandelions that are looking for a new home will not find it in your yard. If you have more blank spots than you'd like, take the time to over-seed your lawn.
Now, you just maintain all the hard work that you have put into your lawn. If you laid down seed; avoid walking on the spots where the seed is growing, keep it watered and happy. Mow when the lawn has hit more than 4 inches of height. If you laid down preemergent herbicide, continue to mow as planned. Throughout the Summer, you’ll want to maintain a height of around 4 inches. Grass height is important because if it is cut too short, it can burn out, or be more susceptible to weed invasion, but too long and it will be too difficult to mow, causing damage to your mower. Get in the habit of mowing and mowing often to maintain the ideal height of 4 inches. Get some tunes, put a beer on ice, and happy mowing!