Room to Grow: Give your grass a break just a bit longer

April 10, 2013 

Spring has sprung.The pollen has coated everything in sight and summer gardens are being planted.

And, always a sure sign of spring, the lawn questions have started. Don’t let the warm temperatures get you in a panic. It is important to use patience with our summer lawn rituals.

Don’t let the fertilizers and grass seeds lining the aisles at local garden centers fool you into starting too early.

Our warm season grasses -- zoysia, St. Augustine, centipede, and Bermuda -- are going through their spring transition and should be allowed to do so peacefully.

In general, lawn care such as fertilization, weed control, aeration, dethatching, sodding and seeding should also be postponed until green-up is complete and grass is actively growing.

These practices during green-up can slow the process and even damage your lawn.

Proper watering is one of the most important management practices during green-up, particularly if the rain slows down.

It will be important to keep an eye on your rain gauge to determine if your lawn has received the necessary 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week.

Those fertilizer commercials that you see are a bit misleading. They are geared at homeowners with cool-season grass lawns -- not us.

Don’t fall for the propaganda, go with our specialists’ recommentdations and resist the urge to fertilize as soon as the weather begins to warm. Although early fertilization creates a lush green lawn, it also will weaken the grass.

To avoid problems, do not fertilize until the soil temperature has reached at least 65 degrees and remained there for several days.

Right now, the soils are going through an intermittent process of warming up, then cooling down again.

To find out the current soil temperature, visit www.georgiaweather.net. (Byron is our closest weather station.)

For many of us, it is best to avoid herbicide applications during green-up.

Although it is hard to resist treating the lush, green weeds covering your lawn, keep in mind that a chemical application will do little to treat these weeds at this time and could actually cause more harm than good.

If your lawn has been well-managed, you can proceed cautiously with herbicides.

To minimize damage, use the lowest recommended rate, insure that equipment has been properly calibrated, consider using spot treatments, always read the label and follow other recommended cultural practices that will promote a healthy lawn.

Keep in mind that some varieties of grass green up slower than others and environmental factors can also lead to delays.

Be patient with your lawn this spring and do not assume the worst. For more information on proper lawn maintenance, visit: www.caes.uga.edu/Publications/displayHTML.cfm?pk_id=6001

Upcoming event

Nature Explorers Camp -- June 3-7 from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. The program is geared toward environmental education for rising sixth graders. Youth will visit venues in the midstate as they learn about forestry, fisheries, water resources, soils, insects and wildlife. Space is limited.

Registration is $100, with the possibility of some need-based scholarships. The deadline is May 17. Contact Karol or Kelle at (478) 751-6338, karolk@uga.edu, or ksashley@uga.edu for the application and more information.

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