The growing season is upon us, and it’s time to start preparing your landscape for the warmer weather. Swingle, the lawn care experts, want to share some answers to some commonly asked questions.
Q: Should I water my lawn over the winter and in the early spring?
A: Yes, especially if little to no moisture has been received and Colorado’s blazing sun has been steadily shining. But understand that we’re not suggesting you activate your irrigation system, which could still be susceptible to damage from below freezing temperatures. Watering with a hose-end sprinkler or nozzle (once a week) is acceptable. Watering 30-45 minutes, once a week, will provide enough moisture. Remember to disconnect your hose after use to prevent future freeze damage until temperatures stay above freezing.
Pay close attention to the south and west facing areas of your lawn (especially if it’s sloping), and around evergreen trees and shrubs. Turf mites are one of the most damaging lawn pests in our area and thrive in dry conditions. Watering over the winter and early spring will help mitigate damage by keeping lawn roots healthy, while providing much-needed moisture to evergreens, which are often overlooked.
Q: Should my lawn be aerated or power-raked?
A: Aeration in early spring is critical to lawn care, as root growth tends to accelerate during this time of year. Lawns also grow very quickly from April through June, and need oxygen and nutrients, which aeration helps with.
Clay soils are predominant in most areas of the Front Range, meaning a spring aeration is vital. By nature, these soils are low-oxygen soils and aeration introduces oxygen into the root zone encouraging growth.
As unsightly as they are, resist removing the plugs from your lawn after an aeration is completed. Let them dry out in the sun, then mulch them back into the lawn with your mower.
Power-raking is not recommended. While it may remove dead patches of grass, it also rips out healthy blades just beginning to grow. Mowing with the blade at its lowest setting will remove the dead grass safely.
Q: Is a sharp mower blade important?
A: Dull mower blades are an invitation for lawn diseases. They also leave your lawn with ragged cuts, which will cause your lawn to dry out faster. Replacing the blade is a good option.
If you want to save a little money you can use a metal file to sharpen your blade (once a month is ideal during the height of the season, if possible). Of course, using a power grinding tool works best if you have one.
If you have a mowing service, make sure to ask them how often they sharpen/replace their blades each season.
Q: When is the best time to fertilize?
A: We recommend fertilizing a lawn sometime in early spring after the snow melts, then four to five more times throughout the season. Most Front Range lawns are “cool-season” grasses, which grow best from April through June.
Fertilizing when the grass is growing quickly provides key nutrients at the right time, thickening the turf and promoting deeper root systems – ideal during hotter, drier months. A thick lawn also helps keep weeds from growing.
Q: Besides my lawn, do I need to focus any attention on my trees?
A: As your trees emerge from dormancy, you may notice some branches have not survived the winter as new buds are not actively swelling. Amazingly, trees know to retain branches that are healthy and strong, while shedding less productive ones. Pruning out dead branches will allow space for the remaining tree to safely and esthetically flourish.
Dead branches serve no purpose to the tree – becoming a safety hazard, while being more prone to disease and decay. Remember, always use safety precautions when pruning dead branches from trees. Contact a professional before you attempt to use rickety ladders and handsaws to get the job done. Safety should always be your first priority.
As earth’s energy begins to awaken from winter, we welcome the arrival of the birds singing, the flowers blooming and the yard work returning. With a few early spring chores, your landscape will be better prepared for the long-awaited growing season ahead.