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Stay on Top of Your Lawn

When the forsythia’s are blooming, it’s time to use pre-emergent’s and crabgrass preventer on your lawn.  When the Lilacs start to blossom and the grass begins to grow, it’s time to add fertilizer.  Lawn care folklore has long relied on Mother Nature’s timing 

to figure out when to add fertilizers and weed control to help improve the appearance of your lawn. 

Before the weeds begin to appear, pre-emergent’s can be applied to prevent seeds from germinating.  Corn gluten meal is an organic pre-emergent that contains a lot of Nitrogen.  It does not kill weeds rather it prevents them from sprouting.  Crabgrass preventer is another pre-emergent that will help control the spread of crabgrass and other unwanted annual grasses.

There are a lot of different options out there when it comes to fertilizers. The best way to figure out what your lawn or garden may need is to start by figuring out what it may be lacking.  If you have problem areas where things don’t grow, getting your soil tested can help you get to the root of the problem.  The Washtenaw County Extension Office sells a comprehensive soil test for $25 and you will have your results in 2 weeks.  You can also purchase a do-it-yourself test kit ranging from $5.95 to $17.49.  Once you know the chemistry of your soil, there are a number of different amendments that can help to achieve optimum soil conditions.

Fertilizers are labeled with three numbers to indicate the nutrients in the different products.  The first number indicates the Nitrogen content, followed by Phosphorus and then Potassium.  Up-Down-All Around is a good way to remember the function of each of these nutrients. Nitrogen increases growth of the leaves and stems, giving a dark green color to the plant.  Phosphorus concentrates on root structure and growth.  Potassium helps to improve the overall health of the plant and bolster disease resistance.

The lawn or garden must be actively growing for most fertilizers to be effective.  The best time to apply weed control is in the morning when the dew is present on the lawn, ensuring that the application sticks to the leaves.  Fertilizer can be applied at any time of the day.  As we head into summer and weather conditions change, it becomes too hot and dry for conventional fertilizers to be effective.  Applying fertilizer high in Nitrogen during the middle of the summer could result in burning the lawn. 

Once weeds begin to appear, Weed and Feed can be applied.  It does just what its name implies and works best when the weeds are young.  It contains 2-4-D which is a broadleaf herbicide that will not affect grasses, but should not be used on new lawns.

If your lawn is in pretty good shape but could just use a little boost, 20-0-10 with a 40% slow release Nitrogen will give you great results.

Applying fertilizer requires either a handheld spreader or a larger walk behind push model. Spreading fertilizer by hand can be tricky and may result in an uneven application.  Watering after you fertilize will help the fertilizer be absored more quickly into the soil. 

A little effort in the spring will give you a beautiful lawn to enjoy all summer long.