Spring Lawn Care
It is not necessarily greener on the other side but if it is then it usually means that your neighbour is looking after their lawn and you’re not. While I’m not all about the golf green lawn, trimmed to within an inch of its life, every blade in perfect position, I must admit I do admire a good looking lawn when driving around a subdivision. You can tell just by looking who is ‘into’ their lawn.
While we don’t all have the time or the desire to have a perfectly manicured lawn it does pay to do a little work early in the year to help the lawn survive nicely on it’s own the rest of the time. In early spring, for example, you should be spreading Dolopril Lime on your lawn.
Usually we recommend Dolopril over straight dolomite lime. Dolopril is a prilled or granulated form of lime that is easier to spread than dolomite lime and it breaks down quickly to sweeten the soil.
Dolomite lime, on the other hand, is a powdered form and just a little breeze will carry it across the fence into your neighbour’s yard or leave you looking like you’ve had a fight with a bag of flour. With all that lime blowing around we suggest you wear a mask when spreading it.
The reason behind liming is because the buckets of rain we get here on the West Coast quickly make our soil acidic, which, by the way, moss likes. Lime sweetens things up (moss doesn’t have a sweet tooth) making the grass happier and the moss not so much.
Two or three weeks later you should throw down a stabilized, slow release fertilizer specific for early spring application. Stabilized fertilizer is slow release all the way through, not just coated on the outside like a lot of other products on the market. This means that nitrogen is constantly available to the grass; it doesn’t leach into the groundwater or evaporate into urea gas.
Don’t be overly concerned about how high the N-P-K numbers go as synthetic fertilizers show as higher numbers but true organic fertilizers are lower. Not sure what N-P-K numbers are? They are the 3 numbers on the bag that represents the percentage, by weight, of the main nutrients that make up the fertilizer. Nitrogen (N) is for vegetative growth above ground, Phosphorus (P) is for strong roots and for fruit and flower development on other types of plants while Potassium (K) is for disease resistance and overall health of the plant.
If you have moss in your lawn and you don’t like moss in your lawn then you may want to apply a high iron fertilizer, usually listed on the bag as ferrous sulphate. The iron in it kills the moss and turns it black. That doesn’t mean you’re done. At this point you need to rake all the blackened moss away, put down good topsoil and over seed with grass so that the moss doesn’t get a chance to come back right away. Notice I said ‘right away’? That’s because you probably have moss for a reason and it will likely make a second appearance next year if not before.
If moss is a continuous problem then take a look at the area itself. Are there big trees shading the lawn? Is it a wet area especially in the cooler months? This will all contribute to moss growth so if you don’t want to tackle the shade or drainage problem then I suggest you decide to like moss. It stays green and doesn’t need mowing. Or if you just can’t get your head around living with moss in the lawn then take the lawn out and put a garden bed in instead, perhaps a nice woodland garden where moss will fit right in and not be cursed at.
A word of caution though…too much of a good thing is sometimes just too much. While you may think that putting more fertilizer on your lawn will green it up faster that’s not true. Excess fertilizer that doesn’t get taken up by the lawn has to go somewhere and that somewhere is into the local body of water. It can invariably end up harming plants and animals in the water. Less is more in this case. It will still make your side of the fence just as green as the neighbour’s.