For The Answer
Lawn Care NowóDespite a Deep Longing to See Your Lawn Green
††††††††††† It is too early to fertilize your lawn.† The only things that benefit from fertilizing your lawn early are the weeds.† Wait until after you have mowed real grass twice (usually after April 15th) before you fertilize the lawn.
††††††††††† If your gardening hormones are flowing and you want to do something really significant for your lawn, top dress and aerate.† Aeration is accomplished by running a machine across the grass that penetrates to cut out plugs of turf and soil about 3 inches deep.† There are also spike type aerators but they are not quite as effective.† It takes about 40 minutes to aerate the typical lawn but the benefits last the whole year and beyond.† Air and water penetrate the channels to reach the roots.† Aeration is the best way to treat compacted soil.
††††††††††† Top dressing increases the benefit of the aeration and is good exercise.† Spread compost one half inch deep over the lawn while you daydream about vacation trips, another Spurs Championship or warm days in the hammock.† The compost penetrates the aeration holes to bring organic material down into the root zone.† Compost still allows the air and water to penetrate plus stimulates microbial activity that improves soil structure.† Top dressing and aeration really is a magical elixir for a tired lawn.† You will notice the benefits within weeks and all though the summer.
††††††††††† Your soil supply store may try to sell you top dressing made up of sand and compost.† For the same price, compost is more effective.† The sand is filler.† The only time I would recommend a sand laced top dressing is if you wanted to fill rough areas in the lawn.†
††††††††††† If you are unable to do the physical labor of spreading the compost or do not have the time, enlist the help of a company that spreads the top dressing for you.† They offer a unique service in that they have a truck size machine that works like a leaf blower or vacuum cleaner in the reverse mode.† The price is reasonable (about twice the price of the compost) and they do a very fast clean job.† Call 599-9516 for more information.†
††††††††††† It is also time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent summer weeds.† Crabgrass and sand burs are two of the worst pests.† Amaze, XL, Balan or Betasan are all effective for both weeds.† There are a number of other pre-emergent herbicides on the market.† Read the labels at your favorite garden store or home supply store.† Per-emergent herbicides prevent seeds from germinating for 2-4 months if the granules are spread evenly and the soil is not disturbed once the chemical forms a barrier in the soil.†
††††††††††† Organic gardeners are excited about corn gluten as a herbicide.† Apply it as evenly as possible in a weed-infested area just as the first summer weeds germinate (March or April).† The herbicide action only lasts for 2 weeks or less but the material will kill the weeds that are already germinated when they are young.†
††††††††††† Do not waste your money on Weed and Feed.† The timing is not right in the South to apply fertilizer and herbicide at the same time.† One or the other part of the product is wasted.† Weed and Feed is also an accident waiting to happen based on the phone calls we get on the radio call-in show.† Many people forget that the herbicide is in the bag with the fertilizer and apply it to the wrong areas in the yard.
††††††††††† The best way to control the winter weeds in your lawn is to keep them mowed.† Mowing keeps the lawn neat and prevents the weeds from going to seed.† You can apply a contact herbicide as long as the weeds are actively growing but read the label carefully to match weed and herbicide.† Temperatures are also important.† Wait until the temperature reaches the level required on the label.