Lawn Care: Early Spring

If you’re a first time homeowner or have just plain never taken the time to care for you lawn – this segment is for you.  When we first moved into our house nearly 6 years ago, the lawn was a 50/50 split of weeds and grass.  The grass that was there didn’t look particularly healthy, either.  Luckily, my friend Chris pointed me in the direction of Scott’s Annual Lawn Care Program.  Scott’s makes it pretty painless to get your lawn tamed by applying around four fertilizer feedings per growing season.  The process of getting your yard up-to-snuff isn’t going to happen all in one growing season, it will take two to three years before you can really step back and feel like you live on a golf course.

*As we live in Missouri, these articles are geared towards our general weather and grass types, but the Scott’s website can point you in the right direction if you live elsewhere.

lawn care fertilizer

Jeff's first time mowing our weedy and sparse lawn in the spring of 2004

fertilize your lawn

There is snow covering our lawn right now, so this is the best picture I have. Our lawn this fall. The dull green grass in the far back is our neighbor's yard.

  • Scotts Turf Builder with Halts Crabgrass Preventer or similar brand/blend – you’ll need to know the approximate square footage of your yard
  • Fertilizer spreader – pick a broadcast or drop spreader that suites the size of your yard

    Game Plan:

    As I’m sure you can imagine, your yard will wake up starving after a long, dormant winter.   Applying a fertilizer designed for early spring helps to feed and green up your yard quickly.  The addition of crabgrass preventer aids in keeping that nasty stuff out of your yard for the entire growing season.  The trick to avoiding crabgrass is getting the preventer applied early enough to keep it from germinating.  The rule of thumb I follow – crabgrass can germinate once the ground temp is 50 degrees.  In early Spring, this happens once the temperature outside is 60 degrees for three days straight.  To be prepared, try buying your fertilizer (and spreader if you don’t have one yet) in early March.

    When the time is right and you have the right supplies, the process of applying fertilizer is simple.  Do make sure you read the fertilizer for any specific instructions surrounding weather before applying (ie- don’t apply if it’s raining, etc.)

    1. Prepare the spreader
      • Read the fertilizer bag to find the proper spreader setting for your type of spreader
      • Cut open the bag and fill the spreader
    2. Apply the fertilizer
      • This varies by spreader, but for broadcast, simply open the spreader and walk in straight lines across your yard – just like you’re mowing.  Watch how far your spreader is throwing the fertilizer and make sure not to overlap on your next pass
      • Let off the handle prior to getting to the edge of your yard – you don’t want to get it in your neighbor’s yard
      • Let off the handle when stopping or making 180 turns – the fertilizer will keep pouring out and you’ll get a ton thrown out when you start going again
    3. Clean up
      • Use either a blower or a broom to sweep the over spread fertilizer off your sidewalks and driveway- it works better in your yard and you don’t want kids thinking they’re candy sprinkles

    This first application is simple but very crucial to the health of your yard all season long- crabgrass is nasty stuff that can set your yard back if you let it.  Make sure to check back for the next lawn care article, we’ll talk about the second application of the Scott’s system that includes weed killer.

    Good luck to you, now get out there and get that blade sharpened and oil changed before the first mowing!

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