by Aaron Graves

So you’re listening to NPR, pulling out of your drive, and heading off to work when your realize that your lawn is not nearly as green and lush as your neighbor’s yard (let’s call him Bill for all practical purposes). In your head, you say to yourself, “I should be able to have a yard like that. Heck, Bill just moved in, doesn’t seem that smart, and definitely isn’t that handy around the house.” But his yard is so lush and green, while yours mediocre shades of an old Crayola tub of crayons. So, what is the trick? Magic spells, pulling weeds by hand one at a time? Well, those can work, if you are into them, but we’ve got an easier route. It’s called proper and timely fertilization (and maybe a seeding too).

In our last blog, we discussed the basic Spring clean up and it’s positive effects on your lawn. Removing the matted leaves, thatch, sticks, gum balls, etc allows for the turf to do it’s natural thing… grow and spread.  If you have not done this yet, you still need to do so. It is your initial weapon in fighting off weeds in your lawn. In this post, we are going to arm you with more knowledge and and three important weapons to get your green kingdom back. These are Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium, the three components in fertilizer (and many magic spells).

Before you make your battle plan though, you need to get the pulse of your kingdom. Is it super healthy, and at least 90% grass? Is it rather healthy and 75% grass. Or is it rather sickly, and around 50% grass. Establishing this first is very important, before proceeding. You cannot be too critical in this step. Underrate your lawn, and over prepare. This is the motto of those with great lawns.

If your lawn is 90% or better, you are in great shape, obviously… and you probably don’t need to read on. You know what you are doing or have hired someone who does. Your fortification strategy is strong. Checkmate.

If your lawn is around 75% healthy, then you have a decent stand of turf but you need to be careful, because the weeds are standing at the gate, ready to attack or already there. In this case you should have applied pre emergent herbicide weeks ago, when their temperature reaches 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit for four straight days. Nature’s cue that this time has lapsed is when the forsythia bush in blooming. But you are still good if you hurry. Still apply it and have a degree of success.

The common over the counter pre emergent herbicide brands are Barricade, Dimesnion, Pendulum and others.  These products contain the chemicals prodiamine, dithyipor, or dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate. All of these can be purchase at any local hardware store. Any any landscape professional worth their salt will be able to apply this product as well.

If you are savvy in your timing and purchase of product, you can also blend your crabgrass preventer with your first round of fertilizer. But be careful, introducing too much Nitrogen to your lawn too early can have detrimental effects on it later in the year. You want a product that has a small amount of Phosphorous and Potassium in it as well, to promote root growth.

*Additional Note – For max effectiveness in the battle against crabgrass control, you must apply another round in 6-8 weeks and sometimes even a third in the Summer. For other weeds, you will need to apply a liquid weed killer in addition to get control of the enemy.

If your lawn in at least 50%, you are definitely in harm’s way. You have been locked outside the castle gates, and the Barbarians are everywhere. But there is still hope. To defend your lawn, I would recommend three things to beef up your armor. First, a quick round of starter fertilizer. Starter fertilizer is a special fertilizer, specifically blended with larger amounts of Phosphorous and Potassium to aide in root growth and development.  Aeration is also recommended, but often the soil is soft, making it challenging to squeeze in. And finally, a slit seeding. These three things together can bring about a massive resurgence of your turf and make what looked like a losing battle a green ribbon campaign. However, if you have already applied pre emergent herbicide/ crabgrass preventer DO NOT SEED.  It will not germinate and you will waster your money and time.

Finally, if your lawn is less than 50% cut and run. Burn down the village and live to fight another day.  Seriously. Consider using a complete herbicide to kill the entire lawn, till it under, and rake it out. After that apply a thick seed blanket and starter fertilizer application, rake in both and then apply another seed blanket on top. This process takes some time, but is often a rewarding experience.  In the end you can wind up with a lush blanket of green to protect you against general neighborhood embarrassment and weeds alike.

If this has helped you in understanding more about becoming the neighborhood green wizard or knight, we are happy. If you still have questions or just don’t have the time or inclination to tackle this dragon, call Red Hawk Landscaping LLC. We will come to your rescue.

Next Blog: Mulching