The Wet Cold Days Of Spring Thus Far

Have you guys who live in the Midwest and points to the North noticed that this spring has been super cold and constantly wet? I know that every spring is like this to some degree, but 2011 has just not warmed up like I am used to! It is not helping our lawns any either.

Spring Lawn Care – The Norm

Normally, we get this sort of gradual warm up over the course of March and into April. It’s the old saying “Spring showers bring May flowers” and it’s true. During this time, the turf comes out of dormancy and starts to grow. You guys read this blog, so you are on top of the fertilizing, mowing and lawn disease control if necessary. If weeds invade (especially dandelions) you are ready to go with your pump sprayer.

Spring Lawn Care – This Extraordinary Season

This year’s warm up is slated to happen next week where I live here outside of Chicago. In fact, it’s going to hit like a ton of bricks and go from these cold 40s all the way into the 70s and stay there. If it keeps raining every single day, we are in for trouble. The weeds will blow up twice as fast and furious, and lawn disease will run through the lawn very quickly. This will be compounded by the fact that most lawns are still recovering from bad snow mold issues.

How To Save Your Lawn This Spring

The good news here guys, is that the basics still apply when it comes to keeping your turf healthy. I want you to mow tall just like every year. It is, however, ok to bag your clippings for the first 3 or 4 custs, especially if the snow mold is heavy. Bagging will help suck up some of the damaged turf.

In addition, you MUST be sure to mow consistently. The growth of the lawn is going to be shocking as we go from extreme cold to above average heat. If you miss a mowing, the stress will damage the lawn.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t use too much nitrogen when you fertilize. We definitely don’t want to over-push leaf growth. I always recommend utilizing organics because they release slowly, naturally. They also increase soil activity which builds the lawn for the long haul.

Keep in mind that whatever hits the lawn here in the later spring will soon pass into summer and bring an entirely new set of challenges. The key is knowing the basics, and sticking to them faithfully.

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When to start–and how to mow the lawn in spring

For some reason, you guys get super concerned about mowing the lawn in the spring. I get emails all the time asking me when to start mowing, should you mulch or catch the first cut and whether to mow tall or short for the first time in the spring.

Don’t get me wrong, I am super happy that you care so much. This article will answer those questions so you can mow with a clear head and an untroubled soul.

  1. When shoud I start mowing in spring? The key here is to make sure the ground is no longer frozen. We don’t want to be walking on frozen turf, because that will crush the crowns and cause dead spots. In addition, frozen turf is not actively growing, and cutting it can cause damage to the shoots. I usually tell folks that when the magnolia trees begin to bloom, that is a good sign that it is also time to start cutting.
  2. Should I mulch or catch on the first cut? Judging by the way my lawn looks right now, I’d say it’s a good idea to go ahead and catch the clippings and debris on the first cut this season. I have leaves, sticks and other junk laying all over the place, and I’d rather just get that sucked up and discarded at this point. I can bet this is a good idea for you as well.
  3. Should I mow tall or short? For this first cut of the season, I actually recommend you mow at around two inches. That is quite a bit shorter than the normal three-to-three-and-a-half I recommend as the norm. Again, this is to get things stimulated for the season.

I hope you guys feel better now. I sure do! Are you ready for the lawn care season?

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