Your lawn is like a picture frame around your house. Along with colorful, interesting flowerbeds, it welcomes and invites visitors into your home. The loveliest homes don’t have the same appeal as those with a healthy vibrant lawn. This is “curb appeal” and whether we are selling our home or not, I would say most of us want our lawn to have that appeal! Here are a few tips to develop that lawn as a new growing season begins.
- Test your soil or have it tested. This is probably the most important Spring task to complete for a beautiful, healthy lawn. If your soil hasn’t been tested in 2 or 3 years, retest. In addition, if your lawn flooded in the past year, a soil test would be advisable since micronutrients can be leached out of the soil by too much rain or rising/receding flood waters.
- A commercial soil test, available at nurseries or feed stores, will test your soil for adequate nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, in addition to its ph. A basic soil test performed by Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Lab will also test for the same four but also tests for calcium, magnesium, salt, sulfur, and conductivity. For a few more dollars, the micronutrients can be tested. For more information, check out the lab’s website or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- With the February rains, grasses and emerging weeds will blossom rapidly requiring mowing. According to the Texas Master Gardener Handbook, the most important task associated with lawn maintenance is mowing; the appropriate cutting height and frequency. So check the blade height of your mower and adjust so that no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade is removed.
- Sharpen mower blades, hoes, and trowels. Dull blades tear the leaf to produce a jagged edge. Browning of the leaf tips will result. Therefore, mower blades should be sharpened to produce a clean cut, putting less stress on the leaf blade and allowing it to heal more quickly.
- Check your irrigation system for needed repairs and adjust nozzles if necessary. With 14 or more days of rain in February, irrigation is probably one of the last things to consider for lawn care. After all, watering your lawn seems so basic.
But when those hot, dry days return . . . you water. But how much? How long? How frequently, What time of day? Check our next newsletter for more watering guidelines.
- Clean and disinfect your gardening tools. These implements can be contaminated with bacterial or fungal diseases which are then spread to healthy plants.
Remove dirt, debris, and sap by wiping or scrubbing your tools with a scouring pad. Then use household disinfectants, chlorine bleach, isopropyl alcohol or pine oil products for disinfecting. Some prove more effective than others but may be more corrosive as well. Remember to disinfect your scouring pad, too. Be diligent about cleaning your tools throughout the growing season. – Garden Solutions, UF-IFAS University of Florida
- The best defense against weeds is a healthy lawn! So plan ahead to prevent weeds by selecting the appropriate herbicide and applying it correctly. A pre-emergent herbicide may be applied at this time. Although a March application will not kill existing weeds, it will kill those that have not emerged above the soil level.
Know the chemical contained in your herbicide and the effect on desirable vegetation. If you employ a lawn service, ask them if a herbicide if used, what kind and how frequently.
- Thatch is organic matter that accumulates between the lawn grass and soil. Some thatch is necessary to prevent compaction of the turf structure. But too much thatch prevents water or air absorption, creates a shallow root system and encourages an environment favorable to diseases and undesirable insects.
- Remove thatch to the optimum ½ inch but not more than 1 inch at a time. Rake thatch debris to the surface and remove to your compost pile. (Don’t have a compost pile? Stay tuned!)
To Bag or Not to Bag:
- Consider using or asking your lawn service to use a mulching mower rather than bagging lawn clippings. The clippings from this type mower filter down into the turf carrying the nitrogen and other nutrients back into the soil. This can reduce your need to fertilize by 1 application a year, thus saving you $$$$$!