One thing on my list to do when spring gets here is to see how the lawn fared this winter. A lot of home owners want that ideal dark green lawn. Lawns can be a lot easier to maintain than gardens and can be a great frame for your garden.
There are a lot of limitations when trying to get the perfect lawn. As someone who works daily in my clients’ gardens, I appreciate the bans or limitations! I want to know that what I am working on doesn’t have something toxic that could hurt me or my kids when I get home. There are some healthy products out there that you can use safely to help you develop a healthy, attractive, even neighbour-envying lawn.
Starting with a very healthy soil is a must. When you are digging, do you have lots of earthworms? Having insects like earthworms in your lawn is a great thing. It means your soil is fertile. Having soil that maintains a soft ball when squeezed is a good sign as well. Lawns are very hard to maintain if you have very sandy soil. Your property is not a golf course and you don’t have an endless supply of water to irrigate your lawn. Good soil is important. I think of health of soil like our bodies. We all want to be healthy and will take supplements and eat vegetables to increase ruffage. Soil is the same. Feed it with healthy supplements and organic matter.
Start in spring with a light rake. Do you need to overseed? Are there bare patches? Do you need to top-dress with some compost?
I do an early fertilizer treatment of corn gluten if I am not overseeding. It is a natural fertilizer containing nitrogen (9-10%). As well as a fertilizer, it is a pre-emergent herbicide and will not allow grass seed and 50% of your other weed seeds to germinate as well. It can be a great thing to use. However, it’s a little on the expensive side. You will need to apply a heavy amount. It is applied just before the forsythia is blooming and applied heavily enough to blanket your lawn. If you are using it as an herbicide, you will want to apply it two weeks apart.
In the past, when I have used corn gluten at clients’ houses, it has encouraged really lush green growth, and yes, I had their neighbours talking!
If you choose to use a spring fertilizer, you will be looking for numbers such as 20-5-10 (nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium) or NPK. As in all fertilizers, you are looking for a slow release that will release the food to your lawn over a period of time. Try to apply it before a rain. You do not want to burn your lawn by applying too much. I fill my spreader over a walkway or driveway because, no matter how careful I am, I always spill!
Your lawn needs between 3- 4 fertilizer applications per year. Remember to mow high to help reduce weeds’ seeds from germinating. The healthier and thicker your lawn, the less chance of weeds. Remember, your lawn does not require more than 1-1 ½” of water per week to develop healthy roots.
- Get started by picking up any twigs or branches from the winter
- Lightly rake your lawn if needed.
- Decide if you need to top-dress your lawn or to over-seed.
- Choose slow-release fertilizer to feed your lawn at manufacturers’ recommended setting.
- Water lawn after fertilizing or fertilize before a rain.