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Davis: The dos and don’ts of spring lawn care

Many probably can’t wait to get outside to start working in the lawn and landscape.

It will not be long until those lawn and landscape maintenance activities are a must. As you prepare for the lawn care season, here are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to spring lawn care practices.

Complete soil testing to estimate your lawn for fertility needs. Go ahead and soil test now, mostly to check the soil pH of the lawn. This is especially recommended if you have never done a soil test or it has been a few years.

If the soil pH is low, applying lime is recommended. It takes six to 12 months for lime to start to have an effect on the soil pH. Putting lime down now will help your lawn for next winter and will help prepare the soil for any fall seeding.

Don’t plan to fertilize your lawn with nitrogen fertilizer in the spring. Instead, plan to fertilize in the fall.

Spring fertilization with nitrogen fertilizer only promotes top growth, and increases the potential for weed and lawn disease issues. Spring nitrogen fertilization does very little for the overall health of your lawn and will cause you to have to work harder to maintain the proper mowing height in the early spring months.

Applying nitrogen fertilizer in the fall, according to soil test results, promotes root development of your lawn grasses going into the winter, will help with winter survivability of the lawn and there is much less weed pressure in the fall and early winter months.

Apply crabgrass pre-emergent and other weed control. Don’t apply weed and feed if possible. It does not make sense to apply nitrogen in the spring that promotes weeds, while at the same time trying to apply herbicide to treat them. However, this is the best time to get ahead of crabgrass with pre-emergent product before it becomes a big problem later in the summer.

Make annual weed control a priority if weeds were abundant last year. Many annual weeds can be controlled much easier if they are treated before they are allowed to mature. As you find weeds in your lawn and you don’t know what to treat them with, keep in mind that we will do diagnostic and control recommendations if you bring samples to the Clark County Extension office at no charge. Make sure to read herbicide labels and consider if you should wait until the fall for over-seeding the lawn when lawn herbicides are applied.

If you have questions about other lawn care activities, please feel free to contact me at the Clark County Extension Service at 744-4682.

David Davis is a Clark County Cooperative Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources.