University of Maryland Extension

Spring Lawn Care Update From the Experts

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After the long winter has passed we are all looking for any sign of spring. Thoughts of flowers and green lawns make us excited to be outside again. Another certain sign of spring are commercials promoting the application of lawn fertilizer. If you have a healthy tall fescue lawn it will naturally green up this time of year. Fescue is a cool season grass species that thrives when daytime temperatures warm-up into the fifty and sixty degree F. range and nights remain cool. Fall applications of nitrogen fertilizer are the most important for fescue lawns. Keep in mind that applying weed and feed products to control crabgrass and broadleaf weeds are also applying nitrogen to your lawn. Look for a crabgrass preemergent without fertilizer. These products can be more difficult to find but are available. Spot treat broadleaf weeds with a liquid herbicide if necessary.

Proper mowing is an important spring lawn task. The first cut removes grass blades that were damaged over the winter and promotes growth. Sharpen your lawnmower blades and set the height at 3 inches. Spring is a time of rapid turf growth so it may be necessary to mow twice a week. Mow less often as growth slows down. Spring is not the time for major lawn renovation projects. Disturbing the ground now opens up the soil to potential weed problems. But seeding bare areas is okay providing you did not use a crabgrass preemergent. Renovating in late summer into early fall is your best option for success. So contrary to media messages refrain from applying too much fertilizer to your lawns now. For additional information see our (PDF) grass maintenance calendar and (PDF) How to Fertilize Your Lawn Responsibly.

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