As the days start to get longer and warmer, thoughts of a beautiful, green, weed-free yard start to surface. The key to reaching the goal of a great lawn in summer is to start now.
A soil test is the best way to get started. You should test the soil at least every two or three years for established lawns. Guilford County extension office has free of charge sample boxes and instructions on how to take good soil samples. You can also pick up free sample boxes at our New Garden Village location. The results will tell what the grass plants want to help them grow. Soil sample results will recommend the amount of nutrients to be applied and the product label will tell you how to apply.
Cool-season grasses (Kentucky bluegrass and fescues) should be fertilized in February around Valentine's Day, with an additional application in March if testing indicates higher fertility levels are needed. Scotts Lawn Fertilizer 26-0-3 is designed to feed the grass with a steady flow of nutrients without the sudden growth surge, and also comes in a crabgrass preventer formula. Espoma lawn fertilizer is a good choice for those who prefer organic methods. By their nature, organics are slow-release fertilizers and feed your lawn gently.
Warm-season grasses (Bermudagrass, centipedegrass and zoysia) should not be fertilized until the warmer months. Application for warm-season grasses is every other month for average soils, and monthly if your soil tests indicate soil fertility is low. Fertilizer application to warm-season grasses during colder months can result in cold damage.
Most soils in the Piedmont are acidic, so lime application is beneficial for cool-season grasses, which need a pH of 6.5 to 7.0 to adequately take up available nutrients. Don’t lime centipedegrass lawns without a soil test-it prefers a lower pH of 5.5. A basic rate is 40 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. Lime can be applied at any time of year, but winter is ideal because the freezing and thawing helps work the lime into the soil.
Keeping weeds out of the lawn also starts now. Applying a pre-emergent such as Halts Scotts crabgrass preventer between February and April will stop crabgrass and many other weeds from making an appearance this spring. As mentioned above, Scotts Lawn Fertilizer with Crabgrass Preventer can also be used to save time. For those who prefer organic crabgrass control, Espoma Organics Weed Preventer and Lawn Fertilizer combines an organic fertilizer with corn gluten meal, an effective weed preventer when used as directed.
You do have options when your plans for a beautiful lawn exceed your available time (or desire) to do lawn maintenance. Last winter saw the launch of New Garden Select, New Garden’s lawn and plant health division. New Garden Select offers both traditional and Select (biologically enhanced) lawn maintenance programs, with custom blended formulas based on your soil analysis. With either option, you don’t have to worry about the right time or product to apply to have a beautiful, healthy lawn.
So whether you’re a “do it yourselfer” or prefer to have someone else care for your lawn, maintenance care now can pay off in a beautiful lawn for you to enjoy this summer.