Early Spring Lawn Care:
Take care of the soil so it can help take care of your lawn! Spring aerating is very important to overall lawn health in the Front Range. Our poor soil conditions make it hard for lawns trying to pull out of winter dormancy. The holes created by the aerator allow air and water to reach roots and for fertilizers to settle in. Products such as Revive, can also help with moisture penetration and water uptake in our dry climate.
Early spring fertilization:
Early fertilization of lawns helps to build a dense turf which will crowd out most weeds. Thin grass and bare spots provide an open invitation for weed seeds. Weaker areas of turf also allow for crabgrass to easily sprout and take hold. Proper fertilizing will provide root growth to help fight off both weeds and pests. Finally, proper fertilization should be done when the lawn is actively growing. This is not only the best practice for lawns but also the environment.
Another thing to keep in mind is that spring is a time of rapid growth for our cool-season grasses, including Ryegrass, fine Fescue, tall Fescue, and Kentucky Bluegrass. These grass types prefer cool weather and will grow robustly until hot weather slows them down. Then they will resume good growth in fall as temperatures cool. Fertilization of these cool-season grasses in spring is a large key to helping them build strength to fight off the heat of the summer.
When it comes to watering there is a fine line between watering too little and watering too much. Turf grasses need adequate water to develop healthy and strong roots. On the other hand, too much water can lead to disease and make grass more susceptible to drought.
Early spring watering is also a major factor in reducing mite damage. Winter mite activity drains moisture from grass and can kill sections of a lawn. This is especially true on south and west side facings and areas where sun reflects back onto the yard off of rock walls, fences, and structures. Replenishing the moisture stolen by lawn mites will allow for yards to green up evenly without large dead areas.
If you have a west or south facing slope in heavily sun exposed areas, winter mite sprays and winter watering can prevent thousands of dollars in damage.
For early spring watering, sprinkler systems should be properly adjusted to provide a thorough watering about twice a week. When watering there are a couple of factors to keep in mind. First, do not water so heavily there is runoff. Irrigation runoff is expensive, wastes water and is actually bad for the environment. However, watering too lightly, prevents deep root growth since all the moisture is at the surface of the soil.
For best results, water about a half inch of water each time. On slopes this my require running zones twice in a short period of time so the water sinks in rather than running off (check coverage). This method of deeper watering encourages plants to grow deep roots that are more drought-tolerant than turf with shallow roots. Furthermore, not watering as often allows grass and soil to dry between waterings. This is a good way to curtail disease, since most are caused by fungi that need extra moisture to spread.
Mountain High has an Irrigation department to help with all your sprinkler system needs.
The best way to control weeds is to have healthy, robustly growing grass. This means that fertilization should be done early to establish good turf growth before weeds start to pop. It is also ideal to control unwanted grasses such as crabgrass with a pre-emergent herbicide. Pre-emergents inhibit seed germination, so they should not be used on newly seeded areas or areas to be seeded. Early post emergent control of weeds is a great way to get rid of them before they can grow seeds and repopulate.
Lawns should be allowed to get a decent start before mowing. The best recommendation is to start mowing once the grass blades reach a height of three inches or slightly longer. When mowing, remember to mow in a way where only a third of the length of the blade of grass is removed with any cutting. The other thing to keep in mind is the sharper the blade, the better the grass can heal the cut. A clean cut means less water loss and allows the grass to better fight off fungi and insect attacks. When mowing, the grass height should remain between two and a half to three inches in length after each cutting.