Summary: A good grass fertilizer in spring helps the turfs roots in the soil get off to a good start for the season after a long winter and before warm summer heat begins.
Question: When does grass start growing in the spring? When should we start our spring fertilizer applications? Eliza, Camden, NJ
Answer: Spring turf care is the last chance for applying fertilizer on your yard and get the turf in good condition before warm weather arrives.
Usually turf becomes poorer as the summer season progresses. Once hot weather arrives, further improvement must wait for cooler days in the fall.
Take full advantage of favorable spring weather by applying the needed fertilizer at the start of the growing season. In the vicinity of northern New Jersey and New York City this date is approximately April 1.
The amount and type of fertilizer required may vary with the soil conditions. Usually an application of 20 pounds of a 5-10-5 fertilizer or 10 pounds of a 10-6-4 fertilizer per 1,000 square feet will give sufficient stimulation.
Lawn Care Tip:
Be sure the grass and soil surface are dry before applying the turf fertilizer. If they are wet, severe grass injury may occur unless an immediate and thorough watering or lawn irrigation cycle is given to wash the fertilizer into the soil.
Uneven application of fertilizer can also injure the grass. A broadcast spreader will aid in distributing granular fertilizer uniformly, but if none is available satisfactory work can be done by careful hand application.
Spreading half of the fertilizer in one direction and the other half at right angles to this will aid distribution. Also, some gardeners prefer to put half the required amount on at ten-day to two-week intervals.
Bare spaces may still exist in the lawn at the time of fertilization. Any spots or rings that are 6 to 8 inches in diameter or larger should be seeded.
Loosen and prepare the soil with a steel rake, hoe or spade and apply the desired grass seed. Then rake the surface very lightly. Early completion of this job is also important.
Dandelions, buckhorn and broad-leaved plantain need no longer make your lawn unattractive, since these weeds can be killed readily herbicides and other weed killers containing 2,4-D.
This chemical must be used with caution to avoid injury to flowers, shrubs or trees. The best time to use it is approximately April 15, just before the dandelions start to blossom. Follow the directions on the container and you will be amazed at the results.
Do Not Forget Fall For Lawn Building
Good lawns can be made in the spring, yet it should be remembered that better results can be obtained with less effort if a lawn is planted in Autumn – late August or early September.
If a choice exists, wait until next August. If it is absolutely necessary to seed the lawn in spring, complete the job at the earliest date.
Seeding after mid-April is a big gamble; so much so that if the soil is infested with crabgrass seed, or if the cost of seed is important, it is better to plant a temporary lawn of rye grass or redtop and make the permanent seeding in August.
Spring weather does not offer many extended periods suitable for making a new lawn. In order to capitalize on all good weather, plan the work and have the necessary materials available:
Soils and Seeding
Most soils should receive 50 to 75 pounds of ground limestone and 30 to 50 pounds of a 5-10-5 or similar fertilizer per 1,000′ square feet.
Use a suitable lawn seed mixture at the rate of 3 to 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet. In purchasing seed, remember that Kentucky bluegrass, red fescue and Colonial bentgrass are the only grasses for general lawn use.
Poa trivialis and velvet bent, in addition to Chewing’s fescue, are useful on shaded lawns. Excessive quantities of other grasses generally are undesirable.
Many soils could be improved by the addition of organic matter or topsoil. While these materials make the turf easier to maintain, they are not always an absolute essential.
Frequently their scarcity and cost or other factors do not justify their use. Heavy clay soils or very sandy soils may be improved by the addition of well-composted organic matter at the rate of one or two pounds per square foot.
One or two inches of heavy-textured topsoil will improve a very sandy soil by increasing its capacity to hold plant nutrients and water. But it is often futile to try to lighten heavy clay soils with sand, as many soils would require 3 to 4 inches of sand.
When preparing the seedbed, the contour of the lawn should slope gently away from the house. Try to avoid steep terraces, as these are hard to maintain. Also, make sure that any material such as lime – check soil pH first, fertilizer or organic matter is mixed thoroughly with the existing soil base.
The uncertainty of spring weather does not permit wasting time in preparing the seedbed. Rather than run the risk of late seeding, complete soil preparation and sow seed as soon as the soil is dry enough to work.