April is National Lawn Care Month and for good reason. What you do - or don't do - now for your lawn will set you up for the rest of the season.
Is a graduation party or Memorial Day event on your calendar? You will have just enough time to get your lawn ready to party if you start this weekend.
Since good-looking and low-maintenance lawns are also the healthiest lawns, set your strategy around what the grass needs for optimal health.
What is this process?
An aerator is a machine that pulls plugs of soil and grass out of the lawn. Ideally, these plugs should be 3 to 4 inches long. Leave them on the lawn to be broken up by the lawn mower.
Aeration is good for the lawn because the aeration holes open up the roots so that water, air and nutrients can get to the roots where they are needed most.
Aerating in the spring is the best time of year because this is when the roots are actively developing. Fall is the second best time to aerate.
For best results, make sure the soil is moist before aerating. Aerating when the soil is dry can do more harm than good.
Fertilizing the lawn three to four times per season gives turf grass the nutrients that keep it healthy. Like people, plants need good nutrition.
When you shop for fertilizer, look for a slow release formulation with a balanced label of nutrients.
The three big numbers always prominent on the bag correspond to the key nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). Nitrogen is a key element, but it has to work along with the other ingredients for best results. If you need help sorting out the labels, ask the expert at the garden center or your maintenance contractor.
A fourth nutrient in many fertilizers is iron (Fe). If you use a formulation with iron, just know that if the fertilizer falls on your sidewalk and then gets wet, there will be stains on the concrete that won't wash away.
Watering the lawn long and less often is best in the springtime because it encourages the roots to grow deep in search of water. Deep, water-seeking roots also build a lawn that is more drought tolerant. This will pay off for you in the heat of July.
After watering well, allow the top 1/2 inch of soil to dry out before watering again.
Get your lawn off to a great start in April when the root structure that will keep it going all season long are developing. That's the best gift you can give your lawn. And its good looks will come back to you all season long.
Courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company based in Silverthorne that is a member. You may contact them at (970) 468-0340.