The below average temperatures have me longing for spring!
Our current early March cold snap is sure to slow the arrival of spring. Usually by now you can expect to see a few shrubs, bulbs and trees to start bursting with color, but this year we are going to have to wait a few more days, maybe weeks, for the first signs of spring.
Even though there is a delay, it is time to get up to speed with your March lawn and landscape activities.
Spring Lawn Maintenance – If you have not cut your lawn for the first time, please do so at soon as the weather starts to warm. It is much easier to remove the winter damaged leaf blades before the turf begins to green-up. Remember, scalping on the lowest setting isn’t required and actually isn’t recommended. Simply mow the lawn at the height you plan to start the mowing season. For most Bermuda lawns, the second setting is recommended. For fescue, start on the second or third notch on your mower. Many still inquire about dethatching at this time of year. Dethatching is the removal of excessive thatch that builds up on the soil surface by using a vertical power rake. But, unless you have a thick layer of ½-1” or more of thatch, dethatching causes more damage to the crown of the plants than it does good. So, with only a few exceptions, the best method for reducing thatch is an initial spring lawn maintenance followed by aeration after spring green-up.
Fescue lawn one day after Spring Lawn Maintenance
Lawn Maintenance – If you have a fescue lawn as soon as we string together a few 60+ degree days it will be time to start mowing on a regular basis. Start your cool season lawn off right by maintaining it at 2 ½ - 3”. Mow frequently enough that you are never removing more than 1/3 of the leaf blade per cutting. So, if you plan on maintaining a 3” level, don’t allow the lawn to grow past 4.5” without giving it a trim. If you have warm season turf, Bermuda or zoyia, you can put off regularly scheduled lawn mowing until April.
Lawn Weed Control – If you have not applied a spring pre-emergent to your lawn yet, do so immediately. Summer annual weeds begin germinating when soil temperatures consistently reach 55 degrees. On the average, this occurs by mid-March in central Oklahoma. But, often weed germination will occur before around concrete edges and next to structures where the soil warms sooner. So, for the best control, don’t procrastinate. Always follow instructions. Watering in the product within a few days is best as the herbicide needs to move into the top ½” of soil to be effective.
Bed Weed Control – March is an excellent month to apply a plant safe pre-emergent to your landscape plantings. Use caution in selecting the product to make sure it is safe for your plants. When possible, select a granular pre-emergent mixed with a fertilizer containing approximately 20% nitrogen. Doing so will give your plants a good spring feeding while preventing weeds at the same time.
Lawn Fertilization – This month is a good time to start fertilizing your cool season lawns. Use a fertilizer with 25-30% nitrogen. Cool season lawns need to be feed more in the spring and fall when they are actively growing, and less in the summer. If you have a warm season lawn, timing the first fertilizer application with spring green-up in March to early April is best.
Mulch – Spring is a great time to mulch your landscape plantings. Maintaining a 2” layer of organic mulch will reduce weed population, retain soil moisture, and provide a more consistent soil temperature for plant roots. I find adding mulch an easier task in the spring when I am cleaning my landscape plantings for the first time.
Irrigation – Start monitoring your landscape moisture weekly. Anytime we have received less than ½-1” of rainfall in the previous 7 days, run your irrigation through a cycle or string out the water hoses. Dormant lawns don’t require as much moisture, but they shouldn’t be left dry either. For the best spring color, do not allow plants to become too dry when they are putting on buds. As for your evergreen plant materials, a late spring cold spell could cause damage if your landscape is allowed to remain dry. It is too early to leave your system on automatic and forget about it. Monitoring and watering as needed is the best practice for March.
Flowering Quince will be one of the first shrubs to announce the arrival of spring later this month
Spring Seasonal Color – Bedding plants will begin arriving in garden centers this month. Resist the temptation to plant summer annuals too early. If you do, there is a good chance you will be replacing them. Later this month will be a good time to plant annuals that enjoy early summer – impatient, begonia, geranium, etc. Avoid planting lantana, penta, periwinkle, etc. until late April or early May as they need much warmer soil temperatures to flourish. Remember, most plants will do much better in well drained, organic soil. So, add compost when planting. A good way to avoid the temptation to plant too early is to plant pansies and bulbs in the fall.
Creeping phlox puts on a brilliant show in March
Seeding Fescue – March is the second best time to overseed fescue. But, it is a very distant second to seeding in the fall. Spring seeded fescue will come up very well and look very good till the summer heat arrives - then it fades quickly. Fescue, being a cool season grass, will not establish a sustainable root system when planted in the spring. So, if you have bare areas in your turf that need to be addressed now, go ahead and seed this month and make plans to redo it in the fall. Do not apply a pre-emergent this spring if you are going to seed as it will prevent the fescue from germinating. Whenever possible wait until fall to seed. Fall seeding allows you to focus on weed prevention and turf development in the spring and turf establishment in the fall when it is best.
Pruning – Early March is the time to do heavy pruning on your roses just before growth begins. Early March is also the best time to make major reduction in the size of hollies. Before spring growth arrives, you can successfully remove all the foliage taking the holly back to the central leader if needed.
Wow! There are a lot to tackle in your landscape during March.
If you need help with any of your lawn and landscape task, or just have a few questions, please don’t hesitate to give Hall|Stewart Lawn + Landscape a call at (405)367-3873.