By the time you read this we hope the snow is gone! The countdown is on, the Super Bowl is over and in New Jersey you can apply lawn fertilizers after March 1st. Are you going to have the luck of the Irish and have a spring-green lawn this year?
We could see a major outbreak of snow mold disease. Snow mold occurs for a number of reasons. The conditions are just right when a long period of snow cover does not melt and the grass does not get a chance to “breathe”. Snow is an insulator and if an application of fertilizer with a lot of nitrogen, the first number on the bag, was made late in fall that does not help. Nitrogen promotes top growth of grass blades. If the snow prevents the grass from growing it can stress the grass, perhaps even “break” the blades. This push-pull action can cause a “heat” build up further stressing the lawn. If you have a large amount of thatch or compacted soil, this also can promote snow mold.
What can you do to avoid this in the future? Be sure to mow you lawn lower the last time you mow in late fall. This lower mowing will help so that a large amount of plant tissue is not “hanging out” just waiting for snow cover. Also, be sure to remove leaves from your lawn late in the fall, do not let them build up and then be covered by snow for a long period of time. Where necessary, remove thatch and aerate to relieve soil compaction. What can you do now? Rake the lawn to remove debris and any leaves. Apply Green-Up Lawn Fertilizer to spur some initial spring growth; this will help the snow mold to grow itself out of the lawn.
Before we get the lawn mower out this spring you may see weeds starting to appear including bitter cress, onion grass and chickweed. Bitter cress grows about 2-3 inches high and has a pretty white flower on top. It thrives in cool spring weather. Most of us notice it, think that we should do something about it, but we generally do not. Once we start the process of mowing and fertilizing it goes away, but it will be back next year. Onion grass is also very visible and easy to identify. It grows stringy-green rounded blades that stick up 5-6 inches in the lawn. To control onion grass be sure to break the blades by stepping on them or mow the lawn to expose the inner tissue and create stress to the weed. Early spring applications of either liquid or granular weed controls are not always successful due to cooler air temperatures. Chickweed also emerges in early spring and grows low to the ground so mowing does not always succeed in stressing this weed. Apply Lawn Weed Control, again realizing the limitations of control in cool, spring weather.
If you do not get out on your lawn in early spring to address the problems we have listed, you are probably thinking about applying crabgrass controls. The old wives tale that you have to apply these controls before the forsythia blooms is incorrect. Our Crabgrass Preventer plus Green-Up Lawn Fertilizer contains Dimension which controls crabgrass before and after it geminates. In New Jersey we would delay crabgrass controls until mid-April, timing would vary in other regions. Why not rake out your lawn, apply some Black Beauty grass seed where bare spots appear with some New Seeding Lawn Fertilizer to get you lawn off to a great start? Where you are not seeding apply Green-Up Lawn Fertilizer to “wake up” your lawn from its long winters nap. Perhaps you need to test your soil and apply Mag-I-Cal Calcium Fertilizer to correct your soil pH levels?
We have confidence in you! Have no fear you can grow a good lawn. Happy spring!