Fri March 2, 2012
Garden Report

Want a Pretty Spring Lawn? Start Prepping Soon.

Getting your lawn ready for spring doesn’t just make it look better – it can help make the grass more water-efficient and healthy. KUNC Gardener Tom Throgmorton has more on this important rite of spring...

I saw a couple dwarf blue iris flowering along with some hellebores.  The crocuses in south facing gardens are in bloom, too.  Spring is here.

Spring preparation of a lawn develops deep, drought resistant roots that use less of our precious water resource.  Each lawn is different.  Factors like the soil type, grass type, the amount of sun or shade, and the time of year all effect how a lawn should be watered. 

The lawn areas, where snow drifted in, should be raked.  Rake up the moldy debris.  It can go in the compost.  The grass needs fluffed up to get air and sun.  Hot, dry lawn areas invite clover mites.  Keep those areas moist during our dry, windy weather to prevent mite damage.

Train a lawn to use less water by soaking the root zone to a depth of six inches.  Water until the soil is moist but not saturated.  Let that watering soak in.  Then water again to push the moisture deeper into the root zone.  It will take some experimentation to figure out how much water your soil requires to be moist.  But it’s worth the energy because your grass will have deeper, drought tolerant roots.    

Mowing also trains lawns to be more water efficient.  Mow often enough that only one third of the grass blade is removed.  Use a mulching mower and leave the grass clippings.  The clippings will breakdown adding organic matter and nutrients.  The preferred mowing height for most lawn grasses that grow in Colorado is two and one half to three inches.  Grass cut shorter needs more water and is also more susceptible to weeds. 

Aerating the lawn in the spring is one of the most important ways to improve a lawn’s water efficiency.  Aerating lessens soil compaction.  It lets air, nutrients and water into the soil.  Aerating is easiest when the soil is moist.  Leave the plugs on top of the soil.  As they breakdown they add organic matter and nutrients. 

Back in the day composted manure was the only organic fertilizer available.  Now there are organic fertilizers that are also environmentally friendly.  These fertilizers have uniform nutrients and are easy to apply.  We use an alfalfa based organic fertilizer made in Loveland.  It’s high in organic matter, has all of the nutrients a lawn needs and is adjusted for our region’s soils.

Early March is the time to apply preventative weed controls.  Use pre-emergent herbicides to keep weed seeds from germinating.  Corn gluten is an organic pre-emergent weed control.




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