March 1 – A New Season Begins!

A New Lawn Season Approaches

Warmer temps, sunny/rainy/windy weather, daylight savings time almost here. It must be March and ‘yes’… a new season of lawn (and garden) maintenance.

Nature is getting ready to throw all kinds of problems at us this year from weeds to hot weather. But, we look forward to helping you get through it all and produce the best, greenest, lawn possible.  We will also pass along a few tips for your trees and bushes. Remember, our goal is to create the best ‘curb appeal’ for our neighborhood to keep up our property values.

Your grass won’t ‘wake up’ from it’s long winter nap until the weather stays above 50 degrees. Around here, that means March. So, it’s time to get a jump on all of the pre-season lawn to-dos now while you don’t have to mow, yet. Here’s what we recommend over the next several weekends…

Pre-Season To Dos:

  1. Address growing weeds left from the winter
  2. Apply pre-emergent crabgrass control
  3. Mower and equipment tune-up
  4. Clean up the lawn to get it ready to mow

1) Kill Those Winter Weeds!

Lawn weeds like Poa Annua (Annual Bluegrass), Common Chickweed, and Henbit are “winter annuals”. This means they germinate in fall, thrive in spring and then die during summer, but not before scattering seed so the cycle can start all over again in fall.  (“Summer annuals”, like Crabgrass, Foxtail and Barnyardgrass, have a different cycle of germinating in spring, thriving in summer and dying just prior to winter, but not before scattering their seeds to continue that cycle again in springtime.

PoaAnnua Weed
Winter Weeds

Weeds like the ones shown here are easy to kill anytime. Just hit them with either Weed-B-Gone (if they are in the grass) or RoundUp (if they are in the mulch). That should take care of them for the season. But, they will still return next fall. Fortunately, you can hit them again before the cold weather sets in.

2) Get Rid of Crabgrass

Scotts TurfBuilder Plus Halts
Take a good look at your lawn. Do you see brown spots mixed in with the grass? That’s dead crabgrass. It will be back, unless…
Grab your wallet and car keys and head down to Lowe’s or Home Depot. Pick up about five bags of pelleted lime (always good for your lawn), AND a bag of Scott’s Turf Builder with HALTS Crabgrass Control. Apply both products by mid-March. They can be applied at the same time. (Make sure your spreader is washed out before you use it!) You can always pull crabgrass up by hand after it has appeared, but that isn’t the best, easiest, or most long-term solution. Believe me- one ounce of prevention in the early Spring is worth a pound of cure later.

3) Get Your Mower and Other Tools in Shape

Depending on what you did/didn’t do last fall to winterize your mower, you will need to do now.

Here’s the list to get your mower ready:

  • spark plug – replace
  • oil – drain and refill with fresh
  • air filter – remove, clean, and reinstall
  • gas – make sure you have fresh gas ready; don’t use the gas that you have left over from last year!
  • mower blade – replace (or sharpen depending on age; replace every 2 years)

Here are a couple of tips to make your job a bit easier…

  • TIP: Blade Sharpener–     I found this handy little blade sharpener available at the Home Depot. Hopefully they restocked it this year.
sharpener
Blade Sharpener

It will let you just tip over your mower and sharpen the blades without taking them off. What a time saver!  Check the Home Depot-around $5. (unplug your spark plug—no missing fingers, please!)

  • TIP: “LiquiVac Oil Extractor” (2 Gallon)

Don’t you hate to drain your mower oil? Here is my recommendation from last season. I found this handy little device at the Home Depot last year and it has proven to be well worth the money (about $50). It is great for removing used oil from hard-to-reach drains on large or small engines. The easy-to-use pump tank comes with a suction hose and storage cap to save the oil you remove so you can transport it for recycling. The key advantage here is that you don’t have to remove any drain plug or save used oil in a pan. Just stick the hose into the oil from the top and suction it out. It’s very clean and neat! While you are at the Home Depot, grab one while they are still in stock. You won’t be sorry. (if they are out-of-stock, you can still order one online)

Handy References:  Maintenance Videos“Best Lawn Mower?

4. Start Cleaning Up

Lawn Debris– Get debris out of the way by picking up dead leaves, sticks, and branches that have fallen, and rocks that have been heaved to the surface by frost.

Soil Test: This might be a good time to have your soil tested if fertilizers and other lawn products didn’t seem to be working last year. To see if your soil needs additional nutrients or minerals, or an adjustment in acidity or alkalinity, send a sample to your local county extension service.

Edge Your Beds: This job is MUCH easier while the soil is soft. So wait until after it rains (Sunday?). Then, use a flat-bladed spade or a lawn edger to cut a clean edge where planting beds meet the lawn. Cut deep enough to sever the grass roots trying to grow into the bed.

If you take the time NOW to check off these to dos when you don’t have grass to cut, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying spring when it gets into full swing.

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