Spring Lawncare Tips
Spring is finally upon us! That means that we will be using our lush, green lawns for relaxing, family fun, cookouts, and entertaining! At GrowinGreen, we value our customers, our environment, and our neighbors who may do their own lawn care, as well as those that have someone else taking care of it for them. I wanted to go over some basic tips that apply to everyone, regardless of who is taking care of your lawn. If you are not a GrowinGreen customer and live in Greensboro, High point, Winston-Salem, Burlington, or anywhere in between, we would love to have the opportunity to inspire you to ‘Love Your Lawn’ again!
Always Read the Label
Before I get too ‘deep in the weeds’, I want to remind everyone that no matter what you are putting on your lawn, whether it is fertilizer, weed control, grass seed, or even round-up, you should always read the label before you do anything! One of the biggest problems we run into is that people tend to think if the label says that 2 ounces are good, then 4 ounces is better and 6 ounces will solve the world’s problems! The reality is that in many situations, you can not only damage your lawn, but you could actually counteract what you are actually trying to accomplish. I always use Round-Up as a good example. The label rate of round-up for basic spraying of weeds is 2 oz. per gallon for a typical backpack sprayer. If you double this rate, you could actually cause Round-Up to chemically change from a systemic herbicide (one that enters the plant and translocates to the roots to actually kill the plant) to a contact herbicide (one that just burns the area it comes in contact with). The same goes for fertilizer. Your lawn can only take up a certain amount of fertilizer. The rest is broken down by sunlight or dissipates into the atmosphere. If you over-fertilize, you run a risk of the excess fertilizer polluting our streams and rivers.
Fertilizer is the lifeblood of the health of your lawn. In the Piedmont area of North Carolina, most of our lawns are Tall Fescue which is a cool season grass. We are also seeing a growing number of Bermuda and Zoysia lawns. These are what are considered warm-season grasses. Since most of our lawns are Tall Fescue let’s focus on them. As you can see below, Tall Fescue has two growth spikes: one in the Spring and then again in the Fall.
These are the times that the plant is most actively growing and when it needs the most food. Traditional advice has been to fertilize in the Spring and Fall. Too many people feel that they will get their lawns nice and green by applying fertilizer during early spring. A great place to get specific information is through your local University or extension service. What I want to touch on is the fact that companies like us will fertilize more frequently which causes confusion as to what is right. Actually, both ways are correct! At GrowinGreen, we spend countless hours researching our program and we are always looking for ways to improve the services that we offer. When we apply fertilizer, we employ a technique called spoon-feeding. This simply means that we use less fertilizer more frequently. We have found that this gives the grass a more consistent source of food for not only handle the growth times, but also the times when the lawn is under stress like mid-summer. Again, both techniques can work. It all depends on what the goal for your lawn is: to survive or to thrive.
I can not stress this one enough! Tall Fescue is meant to be TALL! It is ok to mow your lawn a little low the first 2 times in the spring to wake the lawn up, but after that, the higher the better. I realize that many people like to mow a little lower than this, but the reality is that you are creating more work for yourself down the road! I know that it can get a little tall when we have a lot of rain. This is where we apply the rule to ‘never remove more than 1/3 of the blade at a time’. By doing this, you keep from stressing the grass out and causing it to shut down. However, the biggest benefit to mowing at 3-4 inches is that the grass is healthier and becomes its own best weed control. NC State did a recent study mowing Tall Fescue from 1-4 inches and the higher the height the fewer weeds! In fact, at 4 inches, the weed population was next to nothing!
First of all, your lawn does NOT have to be watered. If you water your lawn too much or too often, it causes the grass roots to be shallow. This causes your grass to no longer grow deep and ‘search’ for water. This can be a problem if you do not water for a while. Another problem with watering your lawn is that it can actually cause unwanted weeds to grow as well as cause your grass to grow too fast. What many people do not realize is that your grass will adapt to the weather. Not to mention, there is nothing more irritating than seeing a neighbor watering their lawn during a drought! At GrowinGreen, we believe in conserving and saving our planet. We believe in planting the right plant in the right place! This simply means that if you have to constantly water to keep your lawn alive, you may need to consider a different variety of grass, amending the soil, or converting that area to a different type of landscape such as ornamentals.
As I mentioned above, there is a difference between surviving and thriving! If your goal is the neighborhood ‘Lawn of the Month’, it may take some supplemental water when mother nature is not doing her part. If you do choose to water, simply stick to the rule of ‘more water, less frequently’ and you will be fine! Because this is an ever-changing target, we recommend your lawn get approximately 1 inch of water a week. That is all it should need. Also, we suggest not watering during the hottest part of the day. It is best to water in the evening when the sun is lower in the sky. The reason is that the water droplets actually magnify the sun’s rays onto the plant. Instead of helping your lawn, the hot sun could actually BURN the plant. Another reason to not water during the hottest part of the day is that it can also create diseases such as brown patch, which is prevalent in the summertime. I have seen many people run their irrigation system during the hottest part of the day and then wonder why their grass is brown instead of green!
These tips are just the basics to keeping your lawn beautiful and green throughout the spring and summer. As we get into the heat of the season, keep checking back for more specific tips to help you ‘Love Your Lawn’!