Signup to receive email updates




or follow our RSS feed

Authors


John Fulton


John Fulton
Former County Extension Director



Blog Archives

732 Total Posts

follow our RSS feed

Blog Banner

In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Spring Lawn Care and Seeding and To Do List

Posted by John Fulton -

Spring seeding should be done between March 15 and April 1 for the best chance of success. The reasons for the early date are the heat and the long germination time for Kentucky bluegrass. It can take up to a month for bluegrass seed to germinate. This means an April 1 seeding might germinate May 1. Then add six to eight weeks for it to become established. This could then be close to July 1. Usually we tend to get hot weather about then. Waiting a few years for those fall seedings to take root will probably increase the number of those trying again this spring, and fortunately the soil moisture conditions are a little more favorable than they have been the past couple of years.

Let's start with the basics. A blend of Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue (red or chewings, and not the tall fescue) is normally used, and frequently there will also be perennial ryegrass in a pre-mixed blend. The fine fescue is much better in shade, and the perennial ryegrass will provide quicker cover. The seeding rate is generally four pounds per 1000 square feet in bare dirt seeding. Use two pounds per 1000 square feet in over-seeding thin lawns. Of course this can run into some real money when doing very large areas. Many rural seedings are done more on the basis of a pound per 1000 square feet. There are almost 44,000 square feet in an acre, so you can do the math on this one.

Fertilizer is always an area of many questions. The place to start is a soil test. This will tell you where you are starting from. Basic soil test levels for phosphorus, potassium, and soil pH should be in the neighborhood of 40, 350, and 6.1 respectfully. Phosphorus and potassium are on a pound per acre basis. This must be considered if you use labs that report in parts per million, which will give numbers half as large. These numbers will provide a great environment for grass. Grass will really grow in very poor conditions, but it certainly won't have that manicured lawn "look" many strive for. Lacking a soil test, or being at recommended fertility levels, general maintenance applications provide a pound each of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium per 1000 square feet of lawn area in May and again in September. Really lush lawns will usually have twice as much nitrogen applied in a season, but split among four applications. It is frequently needed to water during the summer applications. Fertilizer prices remain high.

If you decide to try seeding this spring, remember a couple of things related to weed killers. Number one, you can't use crabgrass preventer in the same season as you put down seed. The crabgrass preventer doesn't know the difference between grass seed and weed seeds. The second rule is to mow the new seeding at least three times before trying any broadleaf weed killer. Generally this means spring broadleaf control doesn't happen when you seed in the spring. The end result is if you seed in the spring, you control weeds in the fall. Seed in the fall, and you control weeds and crabgrass in the spring. If you do plan to use a crabgrass preventer, time it so it is on about the time the forsythia blooms. This would be the approximate soil and air temperature needed for the crabgrass to germinate. April 1 is a good guess, but this date can vary widely with the weather. Many crabgrass preventers also only last for four to eight weeks, so plan on repeating the application in June anyway.

To Do List

Watch roses to determine when to start uncovering and pruning. Many recommend doing your pruning chores when forsythia is in bloom. Also, if you haven't uncovered strawberries, keep an eye on them. They should be uncovered when you see green leaves under the straw, and definitely when you see yellow material – that means you are just a little late. Keep the straw handy in case you need to re-cover them.



Please share this article with your friends!
Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter