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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Spring Lawn Updates

Posted by John Fulton -

Crabgrass seed has already germinated, and will continue to do so throughout the spring and summer months. Preventative treatments will still do some good for seed that will germinate over the next six to eight weeks, but won't get seeds already germinated. The organic arsenicals, such as DSMA and MSMA, will control newly germinated grass. Remember, you should have a second preventative application around June 1 for summer control of crabgrass and other annual grasses.

The time to begin mowing has already arrived in some areas, and there are a few very simple rules for mowing grass. The first is to use equipment that is ready for the job. Make sure the mower has sharp blades. Dull blades will show up as injury on the grass blades like brown tips and jagged edges. Blades can be sharpened in several ways. Using a file or grinder are the more common methods.

Next is the rule of one-third. Never remove more than one-third of the leaf blade at any one time. This rule must be followed if you don't want to catch, or rake the grass. A good general mowing height for combination bluegrass and fine fescue is about two inches. This would mean that you would need to mow every time the grass reached three inches in height.

Bagging grass clippings may actually add to the build-up of thatch (that dead matted layer on the soil surface). Thatch is broken down by microbes at the soil surface. Without a food source, the microbe numbers crash, and any clippings remain, without breaking down.

Mulching is OK. It isn't a cure-all, and it does take quite a bit of extra power to accomplish. The final word is that grass mowed on the on-third rule doesn't need to be caught or mulched. Bagging takes time and the clippings must then be disposed of. Mulching takes extra power and fuel.

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