Louisville Lawn Care Blog
Is this scenario happening to you? It's late spring and it has been 2 or 3 days since you have mowed the lawn. It looks pretty great except you ask yourself… "What is that fuzziness on the top of my lawn? Is my beautiful, green lawn getting some weird weed infestation?"
Most likely, no. Just like we see our trees and shrubs going through their annual reproductive cycle (i.e, seedlings flying around everywhere!) it is the time of year that annual Bluegrass goes to seed. The top of the blade will begin to flower and from a distance, looks like a fuzzy weed has overtaken your lawn. This seed is not viable, just a phase in the life cycle of the plant. Be patient and keep mowing as normal and soon this "flowering" phase will pass.
If you have done a little spot seeding this spring, you may be wondering what is taking your new grass so long to germinate. Due to the exceptionally cool, wet spring we are having, our soil temperatures have remained very cool as we have still experienced frost events well into late April. Soil temperatures must remain steadily at or above 55 degrees before any planted grass seed will begin to germinate. We simply have not had enough warm days in a row to warrant a steady increase in soil temperatures. Your seed, though, will still come up, it is just taking a bit longer due to our cool spring.
If you have not done spring seeding but would like to fill in a few bare spots, use the following guidelines and remember - SAVE YOUR BIG SEEDING PROJECTS FOR FALL!!
- Rake through those bare spots and turn over the dirt to break up the pre-emergent compounds. A garden weasel gardening tool works great for this!
- You can add some top soil to the bare spot to help enrich the soil, but not always required
- Add your seed, preferably turf-type tall fescue, to the top soil/bare spots
- Water your new seed each day until germination
- Baby your new seed throughout the summer with frequent watering, as it's root system is still quite shallow.
Patience is needed as we wait for consistent warm spring temperatures to arrive in our area, but the wait will be worth it as you see that new grass grow!
Before long the sound of lawn mowers and the smell of fresh cut grass will fill the air. A few things should be done in advance that will help your lawn to be at its peak.
- 1. Have your lawn mower serviced … soon! If you wait too long to have this done, there may be an extensive waiting list and your lawn may resemble a hayfield before your equipment is returned.
- 2. Servicing should include a cleaning of the mower deck undercarriage and sharpening or replacement of the blades. In the case of tractors or commercial-sized mowers, also check the tire pressure, belts and battery.
- 3. A minimum of 3 inches is preferred when cutting the lawn (usually one notch down from the highest setting). For the first mowing of the year it is generally suggested to mow at 2-2 1/2 inches. This will remove the dead upper portion of last year's grass blades and hasten the spring green-up. Don't forget to reset the cutting height back up to 3 inches for the rest of the year.
Remember, we have both warm and cool-season grasses growing in our region. The difference in green-up time can be as much as 2 months or more depending on temperatures. Nevertheless, the above suggestions apply to all.
Major seeding projects are best left for the fall of the year, but if you would like to do some spot seeding in early spring to fill in any bare areas in your lawn, we encourage you to utilize the following suggestions:
- A. Use a garden rake or weasel and rake thru/turn over the dirt of the bare spots.
- B. We suggest adding a little new topsoil to the bare spots for added micronutrients, enhancing seed germination.
- C. Sprinkle your grass seed over the topsoil. If you live in the Ohio Valley, Turf-type Tall Fescue is by far the superior seed of choice. Be 100% sure there are no fillers in your seed, like bluegrass, rye grass, or red creeping fescue. No need to add straw.
- D. Water the spots a little each day until you see the seed germinate
- E. It is better to spot seed about 2 weeks after your spring pre-emergent application and not before (Step A above will negate the effects of the pre-emergent, so your new seed will be able to germinate without hinderance).
REMEMBER: If you seed in spring, it is VERY IMPORTANT to notify your lawn care provider so any late spring pre-emergent does not get applied to the new seed until that new seed has germinated and you have been able to mow these spots twice.
Winter can be a difficult time for our lawns. If we get adequate snowfall, this moisture actually protects our turf. If we have a winter, however, with extreme cold spells and no snow coverage, concern arises over the ability of the turf to bounce back and green up again come springtime. So, whose turf is a greatest risk?
Warm-season grasses, like Bermuda, are most susceptible to winterkill but even moderate to cool season grasses, like fescue and bluegrass, can be at risk. The most concerning are high traffic areas in our lawns, such as walkways and dog run wear and tear.
How will you know if your lawn has winterkill? Once the lawns begin exiting their winter dormancy and greening up, winterkill areas will remain brown due to root damage from the extreme cold. These areas will benefit from some raking and overseeding, along with fertilization. If you plan on spot seeding in the spring, be sure to let your lawn care applicator know so that your spring pre-emergent application can be adjusted accordingly.