Turf Tips for Spring
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2014
URBANA, Ill. – Lawn care questions in the wake of last
summer's drought are now pouring in, said a University of Illinois Extension
Rhonda Ferree listed the following
as her top 10 tips ranked in order of importance.
1. FERTILIZE at the proper time. Most homeowners only need
one application per year, which should be done in early September. This helps
the grass prepare for winter dormancy and spring growth. If your grass needs
two applications a year, add the second application in early May.
2. MOW using the one-third rule, which means to never remove
more than one-third of the grass height in a single mowing. Many homeowners mow
their lawn too short. For best results, mow grass 2 to 3 inches tall and let
the grass clippings remain on the lawn to return nutrients back to the soil.
3. WATER infrequently and deeply, providing 1 inch of water
a week. If you decide to water your grass to keep it growing in the heat of
summer, be consistent. Don't water a little each time the grass starts to
brown. This stresses the grass as it bounces in and out of summer dormancy.
4. Put the RIGHT PLANT in the RIGHT PLACE. Grass types for
full-sun areas include Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue.
For shady areas, use fine or red fescue. If the area is too shady to grow
grass, try shade perennials or mulch instead.
5. WEEDS are best managed by maintaining a healthy, dense
lawn. If weeds become a problem, time control measures carefully. For example,
if using a herbicide to control crabgrass, it must be applied before the
crabgrass seeds germinate. They germinate when soil temperatures are 50 degrees
for five consecutive days, which is usually about the time the forsythia
6. When SEEDing a new lawn or renovating an older lawn,
timing is very important. The best time to seed lawns is in the fall between
mid-August and mid-September. The second best time is spring between mid-March
and mid-April. Prepare the site and provide tender loving care until plants are
big enough to survive. Consider overseeding your lawn every three to five years
in the fall with a mix of resistant turf-grass varieties.
7. If your grass needs a CULTIVATION activity, such as
dethatching or core aerification, do those in the fall or spring. Only detach
if the thatch layer is greater than 1/2 inch. Aerify every three to five years
to reduce soil compaction.
8. INSECTS and DISEASE should only be treated if the problem
actually exists. If confirmed, proper timing of control measures is critical.
9. Decide on the QUALITY of grass you prefer, but remember
that the more you do, the more you'll have to do! Fertilized grass grows
quickly and needs to be mowed more frequently.
10. Finally, have fun and ENJOY your home lawns!
For more information on lawn care, visit the U of I
Extension LawnTalk website at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/lawntalk/.
You can also post questions on Ferree's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ferree.horticulture.
Source: Rhonda J. Ferree, Extension Educator, Horticulture, email@example.com