Hello, Beautiful Lawn!
The folks at MSU Extension know all about lawncare, and here are some of their best tips for a lush, healthy lawn.
Not so fast with fertilizer
Fertilizing first thing in the spring may green up the grass, but it’s not so good for developing a healthy root system. Early application of fertilizer triggers foliar growth that uses up the energy reserves stored in the roots. These reserves are what fuel root development and disease resistance. Wait to fertilize until the grass has started growing and needs to be mowed.
Kevin Frank from Michigan State University Extension offers these tips for reseeding damaged parts of your lawn:
- If you’ve applied grub insecticide, wait a week or two before putting down seed.
- Use a starter fertilizer with a nitrogen to phosphorus ratio of 1:1 or 1:1.5 to help get the seedlings going.
- Keep the seeded area moist until the turf is established. Depending on weather, you may have to water several times a day.
- Avoid use of herbicides for the season – tender seedlings don’t tolerate it well.
- Wait at least 60 days before the first mowing.
As with all things in nature, timing is everything. You want to get the pre-emergent in the soil before it warms up. Eighty percent of summer annual grasses such as crabgrass germinate when the soil consistently reaches 60-70 degrees F. If you’re not sure of your soil temperature, check out the this tracker used by golf courses and see the readings in your ZIP code. The best time to apply crabgrass pre-emergence products is when the soil is consistently 50-55 degrees in the top 2 inches of soil. Typically, this is about when the forsythia bloom.
Show pollinators a little love
A weed-free lawn eliminates plants that flower and that cuts down on food available to bees and other pollinators. Show pollinators a little love by planting flowering trees and shrubs, expanding flowerbeds or simply allowing flowers such as clover in the turf.
A dead patch of lawn could indicate grubs. Get a shovel and dig up a few samples of surrounding turf about the size of a dinner plate. You only need to go about two inches deep. If you find white grubs (white, c-shaped and about ¾ of inch long) they are most likely the larvae of European chafers.
A healthy lawn with a strong root system and adequate rain or irrigation won’t be bothered by a few grubs. If you find you do need to use an insecticide, water thoroughly after application to get best results. Get the complete guide to grub control including which insecticides to use and when from the MSU Extension service here.
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