Louisville Lawn Care Blog
Most lawns in our area seem to be under stress more than is typical for early summer. Why? Simply put – We Had No Spring!! We went from winter to summer, it seemed overnight, and these extremes in our weather conditions are a HUGE factor in the health of our lawns.
As we reflect back to winter, it seemed never-ending. Though February graced us with some pleasant days, March was harsh, even giving us accumulating snows. As we looked forward to warmer temperatures in April, for the most part, we were disappointed, as April 2018 was the coldest April on record. Our lawns were supposed to be coming out of winter's dormancy, yet most barely grew in April. In fact, for most of us, this was the latest we had ever to begin mowing our lawns – they simply were not growing.
Things changed – and quickly! - come May. Overnight, we went from sweater weather to shorts and tee shirts. May was HOT – the hottest May on record. Our lawns just could not quickly adapt to such wide temperature fluctuations. New lawns, seeded last fall or this spring, have especially suffered.
Though we can't do a thing about our temperature extremes, we can continue to baby our lawns as we move through summer by following these 3 tips:
- Mow nice and tall, no shorter than 3".
- Water your lawn early in the morning when we go through dry periods.
- Stay on your regular lawn application treatment schedule.
As your professional lawn care company, feel confident we will customize your program to best fit whatever extremes in temperature our area faces to maximize the benefits to your lawn!
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.