Lawn Care

(Question)

Given the present temperatures, is it too early to fertilize and/or seed my lawn at this time? Thank you

 

(Answer)

Last year we had the warmest mid-March on record. This year it was probably the coldest. It’s now the beginning of April and most gardeners are itchy to get in their gardens. So your question is a good one. When exactly is it a good time for fertilizing and seeding a lawn in the Spring?

What you might want to spend time doing right now, before any fertilizing or seeding takes place,  is lightly rake the grass where the snow was piled up over the winter. (Make sure the lawn is firm enough to walk over without leaving footprints). This removes thatch, leaves and other debris. It is common for snow mold fungi to grow on grass blades under piles of snow. Matted-down grass is a moist environment where fungus can thrive. Lightly raking these areas provides better air circulation down into the turf, dries out the area and hence reduces damage from fungus. You can also assess the state of your lawn for damaged spots and determine if you really need to overseed.

After you have completed the raking you could actually start to overseed your lawn, so it’s ready to grow when the weather warms up. However, you will need to cover the seed with good quality topsoil, which may not be readily available just yet. In order for seed to germinate warmth and water is needed. However, hold off on the watering until it’s a lot warmer. Please note that most turf experts suggest the best time to overseed an existing lawn is late summer and into early fall.

Turf root system development in early spring is critical for grass health. Deeper roots that form in spring help the vigor of the turf during summer’s hot and droughty conditions. Fertilizing too early in spring can encourage lush top growth at the expense of root growth. Your lawn is probably just coming out of dormancy. If you need to fertilize there really is no benefit to fertilizing while the soil is very cold or frozen. Fertilizer particles will not penetrate the ground and get to the roots of the grass. Furthermore, it can be washed off the turf after a rain storm thus rendering it useless.  Resist the temptation to fertilize now and wait until your grass has fully “greened up” and the temperature is a lot warmer. Unfortunately, with our weather it’s impossible to identify a specific date for this.  You will have to use your judgement. By the way it’s always a good idea to follow the instructions on the package.

You can find a very handy Lawn Care Calendar on the City of Windsor’s website. Check out the following link:

https://www.citywindsor.ca/residents/environment/environmental-master-plan/goal-c-green-windsor/documents/lawn%20care%20calendar.pdf

Be patient and hopefully warmer days will be here soon.