University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

Thinking Ahead to 1998 Lawn Care

January 15, 1998

Even though the ground is white and spring is far away, it's not too early to start planning ahead to your 1998 lawn care schedule. For example, major projects (such as putting in a new lawn), routine maintenance, or addressing specific problems need to be done at the right time, so a reminder on the calendar helps when that month arrives.

For example, fertilization is an important component of all lawn care programs. Even though the popular belief is to generously fertilize lawns in spring, this could be detrimental to lawns. Excess nitrogen fertilizer in spring can produce topgrowth at the expense of root growth, thus weakening the lawn.

Plan (mark the calendar) on applying about one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet this spring, preferably in the first part of May. Choose slow-release nitrogen fertilizers for the best results. Then fertilize again in early September, at a slightly higher rate. A third application in very late fall after the lawn is about done growing can be beneficial.

If planting a new lawn or totally renovating an existing lawn is in the works for 1998, spring may be the most popular time, but given a choice, the optimum time to start a new lawn in our area is late August into early September. In early fall, the favorable growth period is just beginning and weed problems are fewer.

If you've resolved to address chronic lawn weed problems in 1998, consider several factors. First, sound cultural practices, such as proper mowing, fertilizing, and watering will keep lawns healthy and weed problems to a minimum. When using herbicides, application timing is critical to assure good control and minimum pesticide use. For crabgrass, the target date for preemergence crabgrass herbicides is about the first week of May. Broadleaf weeds, such as dandelions, are often best controlled in early fall, although late spring applications can be effective.

Thatch a chronic problem in your lawn? Most thatch problems originate in the soil, either compaction or poor drainage. For this reason, core aerification is a suggested way to manage thatch problems. This can be done anytime the ground is moist, preferably in spring and/or fall.

Watch this column for more lawn care tips as the 1998 season unfolds, but don't hesitate to plan ahead - it usually pays off!


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