Lawn Care For Spring - Knowledgebase Question

Springfield, MA
Question by auntymimie
March 10, 2000
Spring is Springing! It's time for me to get going on my lawn. I took a soil test yesterday, and it says I need lime and nitrogen. How do I add nitrogen to my lawn? I've been working on this lawn for four years. What a challenge! It's been neglected for ages -- I mean NEGLECTED. I'm getting there though. Can you give me some of the steps I should take? Should I aerate my lawn first? Then add my fertilizer, etc.? What steps should I take for the grubs and or cutworms? Should I treat them now with the fertilizer? They've already started to attack the roots of my Perennial garden.


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Answer from NGA
March 10, 2000

0

trees and shrubs that provide berries and shelter for them.

You can improve a neglected lawn by "top-dressing" it, which is adding a thin layer of topsoil or compost to your lawn in the fall. It adds those wonderful microorganisms that help control thatch, it improves drainage and aeration, and it buries disease spores. A thin layer (3/8 inch) of any material rich in organic matter will do: topsoil, ground seaweed, rotted sawdust, well-rotted manure, or peat moss (although peat would not be good for your particular lawn since it is already too acidic according to your test results). An ideal top-dressing is compost because it contains nutrients as well, and you may not need to further fertilize your lawn.

As for applying nitrogen, that's what the first number in a chemical formula for fertilizer is. For example, 15-10-3 is the Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium ratio in the fertilizer. In this example, the 15 shows a higher amount of Nitrogen that the other nutrients (Phosphorus 10 and Potassium 3). Nitrogen is necessary for green growth. However too much will 'burn' a lawn, browning it out, so don't be tempted to overdo! Different lawns can have different needs, but the Purdue University turf experts recommend two applications of fertilizer per year, one in September and the other in November. Spring applications result in excessive top growth and therefore extra work on your part in mowing! Lime is also best applied in the fall, but spring is OK too. Follow the soil test recommendations.

Another important recommendation from the Purdue experts is to not mow lower than 2 or 3 inches. Measure your lawn to determine this height. You may be surprised at how short you are cutting it! Grass forms its own barrier against many weeds if allowed to develop to this height. Grass cut too short allows weeds seeds to readily germinate. Try it -- it really works! Since I started mowing high, the few broadleaf weeds that do occasionally pop up in my lawn can be easily hand dug out, without the need for an additional chemical herbicide applied to my lawn! As I said in the beginning, why make more work for yourself than necessary, especially when it comes to lawns? We gardeners would rather spend the day in our flower and vegetable beds, wouldn't we?! trees and shrubs that provide berries and shelter for them.

You can improve a neglected lawn by "top-dressing" it, which is adding a thin layer of topsoil or compost to your lawn in the fall. It adds those wonderful microorganisms that help control thatch, it improves drainage and aeration, and it buries disease spores. A thin layer (3/8 inch) of any material rich in organic matter will do: topsoil, ground seaweed, rotted sawdust, well-rotted manure, or peat moss (although peat would not be good for your particular lawn since it is already too acidic according to your test results). An ideal top-dressing is compost because it contains nutrients as well, and you may not need to further fertilize your lawn.

As for applying nitrogen, that's what the first number in a chemical formula for fertilizer is. For example, 15-10-3 is the Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium ratio in the fertilizer. In this example, the 15 shows a higher amount of Nitrogen that the other nutrients (Phosphorus 10 and Potassium 3). Nitrogen is necessary for green growth. However too much will 'burn' a lawn, browning it out, so don't be tempted to overdo! Different lawns can have different needs, but the Purdue University turf experts recommend two applications of fertilizer per year, one in September and the other in November. Spring applications result in excessive top growth and therefore extra work on your part in mowing! Lime is also best applied in the fall, but spring is OK too. Follow the soil test recommendations.

Another important recommendation from the Purdue experts is to not mow lower than 2 or 3 inches. Measure your lawn to determine this height. You may be surprised at how short you are cutting it! Grass forms its own barrier against many weeds if allowed to develop to this height. Grass cut too short allows weeds seeds to readily germinate. Try it -- it really works! Since

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