Did You Know? Tips for Spring Fertilization and Mowing
By Chris Wells
Now that spring has arrived, temperatures are starting to rise. Although this year hasn’t been a typical spring, the time is still right to apply your first round of turf fertilizer with crabgrass pre-emergent.
Spring is the best time to apply a pre-emergent to your lawn for the control of the dreaded crabgrass that can show up in your lawn in mid-summer. The pre-emergent with fertilizer does two things: first, the fertilizer helps feed your lawn as it comes out of a winter sleep. This fertilizer treatment thickens the grass, allowing it to shade the soil from the sun’s heat. Second, the pre-emergent forms a barrier that prevents crabgrass from germinating. This stops the seedlings before they can begin to grow. Unfortunately, the pre-emergent cannot tell the difference between good grass seed and crabgrass seed. This makes fall a more ideal time for seeding.
Research within the turf grass industry indicates that crabgrass begins to germinate when the top two inches of soil is at 55°F for five consecutive days. Crabgrass likes it hot! The germination process doesn’t get up to full steam until the air temperature gets into the high 70’s to low 90’s when soil temperatures are warmer.
When mowing your lawn, the higher the better. In the spring, cool season grasses, which should be green and actively growing at this time, can be cut at 2.5 to 3 inches. As the temperatures continue to rise, raising the mowing height to at least 3.5 inches will help with the overall health of your turf. It will shade the soil from the sun’s heat and keep the soil a few degrees cooler, which results in slowing weed germination. It also reduces the chances that the sun will burn the delicate crowns of the grass. It’s the equivalent of going outside without a hat on – your chances of burning your scalp escalate!
Following these tips will help promote a thicker, healthier, and weed-free lawn.