lawn maintenance

April Lawn & Landscape Tips

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April may be my favorite month in the landscape.  (I say that about a lot of months!)  April is the month the landscape finally comes all the way alive.  Cool season lawns are stunning and warm season lawns are turning greener every day.  By the end of the month, everything will be green!

April is the month that so many perennials, shrubs and trees add splashes of colors to the landscape.  Everyday, I notice something new bursting to life.

April is also a critical month for lawn and landscape activities.  It is a transition month between cool weather and warm weather and so many important tasks need our attention.

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Turf Fertilizer – Bermuda and Fescue lawns both need a good feeding between mid-March and the end of April.  If you subscribe to the full 7-step Hall | Stewart program, you will receive an application of fertilizer during this window of time.  If you subscribe to our 4-step weed control only program, it is time for you to fertilize.  Look for a fertilizer with 25-30% nitrogen and a small amount of phosphorus and potassium. 

Turf Weed Control – Application #2 not only focuses on feeding the lawn, but it also contains post-emergent weed control.  Our goal on Fescue is to clean out the broadleaf weeds and slow the development of Bermuda.  For Bermuda lawns, we want to suppress broadleaf weeds and get control of some grassy weeds.  But, while Bermuda is coming out of dormancy we have to be careful with herbicide applications.  We are limited in what we can do without damaging Bermuda.  Good turf development now is the key to a healthy lawn all summer and we don’t want to cause any harm while warm season turf is coming out of dormancy. 

Our promise to you is to take all the steps we can to remedy weed issues in a way that is safe for your lawn and the environment.

Our request is that you always let us know how your lawn is doing 10-14 days after an application. If the lawn needs to be retreated, results will be better if it occurs within 2-3 weeks of the initial application.

Irrigation – As the weather warms in April, your lawn and landscape will start needing more water.  This is the month you need start watering on a regular basis, if we are not getting sufficient rainfall.  Remember to follow the odd/even watering restrictions.  If you have a rain sensor, it will interrupt the cycle when we receive rain.  If you don’t, please remember to turn your system off when we get a good rainfall. 

If you don’t have a rain sensor, consider having one installed.  A sensor will pay for itself in water savings very quickly.

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Rain Bird Rain Sensor — they claim it will save 35% on your water bill!

Lawn Maintenance – If you have a Fescue lawn, April is the month that you will need to start mowing regularly. Remember the rule of 1/3 – never cut more than 1/3 of the turf off in a single mowing. Anytime you cut more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off you are keeping your lawn from looking its absolute best. Start mowing the Fescue taller in April. It needs to have as much leaf space as possible going into the summer months.

If you have a warm season lawn, you should have already cut the lawn short for the spring and can expect to cut the lawn every 10-14 days this month. Try to keep your Bermuda lawns cut short early in the season. You need to be in a position to gradually increase the mowing height later in the season.

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Seasonal Color – We all have the tendency to get a little antsy and want to plant annuals a little too early.  Who can blame you?  With all the colorful plants already in the garden centers, it is really hard to resist.  But, wait until after the danger of the last frost passes in mid-April.  Start with annuals that tolerate a few cool nights, such as begonia and impatient — wait until May to plant heat loving annuals, such as periwinkle, lantana, penta.   If you planted pansies last fall, they have come alive the past few weeks and will bridge the gap until time to plant.

April may be my favorite month in the landscape.  (I say that about a lot of months!)  April is the month the landscape finally comes all the way alive.  Cool season lawns are stunning and warm season lawns are turning greener every day.  By the end of the month, everything will be green!

April is the month that so many perennials, shrubs and trees add splashes of colors to the landscape.  Everyday, I notice something new bursting to life.

April is also a critical month for lawn and landscape activities.  It is a transition month between cool weather and warm weather and so many important tasks need our attention.

Turf Fertilizer – Bermuda and Fescue lawns both need a good feeding between mid-March and the end of April.  If you subscribe to the full 7-step Hall | Stewart program, you will receive an application of fertilizer during this window of time.  If you subscribe to our 4-step weed control only program, it is time for you to fertilize.  Look for a fertilizer with 25-30% nitrogen and a small amount of phosphorus and potassium. 

Turf Weed Control – Application #2 not only focuses on feeding the lawn, but it also contains post-emergent weed control.  Our goal on Fescue is to clean out the broadleaf weeds and slow the development of Bermuda.  For Bermuda lawns, we want to suppress broadleaf weeds and get control of some grassy weeds.  But, while Bermuda is coming out of dormancy we have to be careful with herbicide applications.  We are limited in what we can do without damaging Bermuda.  Good turf development now is the key to a healthy lawn all summer and we don’t want to cause any harm while warm season turf is coming out of dormancy. 

Our promise to you is to take all the steps we can to remedy weed issues in a way that is safe for your lawn and the environment. 

Our request is that you always let us know how your lawn is doing 10-14 days after an application.  If the lawn needs to be retreated, results will be better if it occurs within 2-3 weeks of the initial application.

Irrigation – As the weather warms in April, your lawn and landscape will start needing more water.  This is the month you need start watering on a regular basis, if we are not getting sufficient rainfall.  Remember to follow the odd/even watering restrictions.  If you have a rain sensor, it will interrupt the cycle when we receive rain.  If you don’t, please remember to turn your system off when we get a good rainfall. 

If you don’t have a rain sensor, consider having one installed.  A sensor will pay for itself in water savings very quickly.

Rain Bird Rain Sensor — they claim it will save 35% on your water bill!

Lawn Maintenance – If you have a Fescue lawn, April is the month that you will need to start mowing regularly.  Remember the rule of 1/3 – never cut more than 1/3 of the turf off in a single mowing. Anytime you cut more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off you are keeping your lawn from looking its absolute best. Start mowing the Fescue taller in April. It needs to have as much leaf space as possible going into the summer months. 

If you have a warm season lawn, you should have already cut the lawn short for the spring and can expect to cut the lawn every 10-14 days this month.  Try to keep your Bermuda lawns cut short early in the season.  You need to be in a position to gradually increase the mowing height later in the season.

Seasonal Color – We all have the tendency to get a little antsy and want to plant annuals a little too early.  Who can blame you?  With all the colorful plants already in the garden centers, it is really hard to resist.  But, wait until after the danger of the last frost passes in mid-April.  Start with annuals that tolerate a few cool nights, such as begonia and impatient — wait until May to plant heat loving annuals, such as periwinkle, lantana, penta.   If you planted pansies last fall, they have come alive the past few weeks and will bridge the gap until time to plant.

We look forward to every opportunity to visit about your lawn and landscape!

If you have any questions, please send us an email or call (405)367-3873.

Lorne Hal

It's time to dust off the lawn mower!

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It is the first ritual of spring – firing up the lawn mower. 

Let’s cover a few of the questions we get asked every year at this time.

 

How low do I need to cut the lawn the first time?

Probably the most asked question we will get over the next few weeks.

The old rule was to cut the lawn as short as the mower would go.  Homeowners would brag about getting the lawn shorter than their neighbor.  The more dirt exposed, the better. 

But why?  What is the purpose of scalping your lawn?  Is it the best thing for your lawn?  Or, are you doing it just because you have always done it?  Or, since everyone is doing it, it must be the right thing?

Actually scalping your lawn in the spring on the lowest setting isn’t need.  And, it really isn’t beneficial for your lawn. 

But, there is something you should do every spring – the initial spring lawn maintenance

 
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It is common for Fescue to end up over 3” tall.

1.5-2” is a good starting height in the spring.

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Often Bermuda lawns end the season at 2-3” tall.

Cutting it down to 1” is a good place to start the season.

 

What is the difference?  Lawn scalping is setting your mower on the lowest setting.  Many use scalping to take the lawn as low as possible, often exposing some soil.  But, anytime you expose dirt in your lawn you are opening up the opportunity for more weeds to germinate.  Also, when you scalp as low as possible you run the risk of damaging the plant crown.  Damage to the crown will result in a weaker root system and a stressed lawn in the early spring. 

 

Spring Lawn Maintenance is the practice of setting your mower cutting height at or just below the height you plan to start mowing for the season. Common practice when mowing is to gradually increase the cutting height of your lawn through the spring and summer with your lawn reaching its maximum height during late summer. If you plan on starting your lawn off for the season on the second notch on your mower, then do the initial spring lawn maintenance at that same height.

Warm season turfs, Bermuda and Zoyia, go completely dormant during the winter, so removing the brown leaf blades is necessary.  The leaf blades (grass shoots) are actually damaged by the winter freezes and will not green back up.  In most winters, the crown, stolons, and tillers will green back up.  So, only leaf blades need to be removed, not the crown or stolons.

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Fescue lawn before Spring Lawn Maintenance has removed the freeze damaged grass tips.

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Fescue lawn after Spring Lawn Maintenance.

 

What is the right time for spring lawn maintenance?  The best time is between late February and the end of March as the temperatures start to warm.  The goal is to do it after the last chance for extended cold weather and before spring green up.  Use the bag on your mower or rake up the clippings.  Removing the clippings is always a good practice anytime you are removing more than 1/3 of the grass blade in one mowing whether it is dormant or green.

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Fescue lawn 3 weeks after Spring Lawn Maintenance

 

If I have a cool season lawn (fescue or rye), is spring lawn maintenance needed?  For the best spring green up, I would recommend mowing the lawn a little shorter than you left it at the end of last season.  Fescue leaf blades have brown tips left over from the winter cold.  If you remove the brown leaf tips soon, your lawn will develop better color quicker as soil temperatures warm.

 
Do I ever need to dethatch the lawn?  Dethatching is the process of removing excess thatch. Thatch is the layer of under-composed grass clippings that builds up on the soil surface. When your lawn is healthy and you are mowing often enough, you should not have thatch build up. This is even true if you do not catch your clippings during the growing season. But, if you have a layer of more than 1” of thatch, dethatching is recommended. Use a verti-cutter, also known as a power rake, to remove the thatch before spring green up. Excessive thatch stops air, nutrients, and water from reaching the root zone and results in a shallow rooted turf.  Aeration, after spring green up, is also an effective way of removing thatch and also has the added benefit of reducing soil compaction.  In most cases, spring lawn maintenance followed by aeration after spring green up will cure the thatch on most lawns. In over 30 years in the lawn and landscape industry, I have only seen a handful of lawns with excessive thatch problems to the point that dethatching was required.

Do I ever need to dethatch the lawn?  Dethatching is the process of removing excess thatch.  Thatch is the layer of under-composed grass clippings that builds up on the soil surface.  When your lawn is healthy and you are mowing often enough, you should not have thatch build up.  This is even true if you do not catch your clippings during the growing season.  But, if you have a layer of more than 1” of thatch, dethatching is recommended.  Use a verti-cutter, also known as a power rake, to remove the thatch before spring green up.  Excessive thatch stops air, nutrients, and water from reaching the root zone and results in a shallow rooted turf. 

Aeration, after spring green up, is also an effective way of removing thatch and also has the added benefit of reducing soil compaction.

In most cases, spring lawn maintenance followed by aeration after spring green up will cure the thatch on most lawns.  In over 30 years in the lawn and landscape industry, I have only seen a handful of lawns with excessive thatch problems to the point that dethatching was required.

 

If you have any questions concerning the practice of spring lawn maintenance verses scalping, please give us a call. (405)367-3873.  

We would love to hear from you. 

Lorne Hall