Garden Corner – Planning for a Healthy Lawn

Kelly Jackson
Christian County Extension Office

Planning for a Healthy Lawn

Temperatures are rising, the sun is occasionally peeking out of a bluer sky than we’ve seen for a while, and many of us are itching to start working on lawns that may not look so great after a long, wet winter. Before you spend a lot of money on herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, realize that less is often more when it comes to spring lawn care.

The time to spread pre-emergent weed control is when forsythia blooms. Those bright yellow blooms are the first to emerge in early spring, and they are good indicators that the soil is beginning to warm and weeds are close to germinating.

Annual weeds such as crabgrass and goosegrass germinate in the spring. Depending on how thick your turf is and the amount of weed seeds in the soil, these weeds can outcompete with your grass and take over your lawn. If you miss the pre-emergent window and weeds start to sprout, your best bet is to apply some post-emergent herbicide to your lawn, when weeds are small.

It’s not a good idea to apply nitrogen fertilizer to your lawn in the spring, so avoid applying a weed-and-feed herbicide. The best time to fertilize your lawn is in the fall. Spring feeding promotes the growth of warm-season weeds. Also, high amounts of nitrogen in spring and summer can result in increased damage from white grubs in the soil. High nitrogen levels restrict turf rooting, and that adds to the damage from grubs feeding on the turf roots.

Be aware that not all weeds are bad. We love to have pristine lawns, but the herbicides and pesticides needed to acquire those types of lawns are often detrimental to our pollinators. Dandelions are important early spring flowers for bees. If you don’t like them, you can mow off the blooms before they go to seed, rather than spray them with herbicide.


Source: Gregg Munshaw, extension associate professor, UK Department of Plant and Soil Sciences


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