Has Spring Finally Sprung? Tips For Your Lawn This Spring Season!

spring season lawn tips

Spring has taken its sweet time to arrive for most of the U.S. If you live in the more northern states like Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan, you may be thinking that spring may never arrive since these areas still have snow. Receiving some snow at this time of year is not uncommon for these folks.

Even the lawns in the warmer parts of the U.S. are greening up at a much slower rate than normal. Warm season turfgrasses such as Bermuda or Zoysia, often turn brown during the winter months and don’t begin to start growing until temperatures are consistently above 70 degrees. There have been warm days, but not enough in a row to get these grasses to start growing again.

Tips to Prepare Your Lawn For Spring

Except for the lawns in the great white north, there are still plenty of things that you can do for your lawn and landscape to get a jump start on the year. The first thing to do is to take a walk around your lawn and look for any areas where the grass may be matted down.

This can be the result of foot traffic across the lawn, excessive levels of snow or even some snow mold that may have developed in the late winter of early spring. For the most part, lightly raking the area to fluff up the grass is all that is necessary. Be sure to wait until the lawn has dried out some before raking. Raking wet turf could result in pulling out the new growth.

You can also check your lawn mower, power equipment, and gardening tools in case they need to be repaired or replaced.

Should I Core Aerate My Lawn This Spring?

Core aerating your lawn in the spring is a good thing to do, but the timing is important. For warm season areas, it is best to wait until the turf has begun to turn green. The roots grow best when temperatures are between 80˚ to 95˚ F. The roots of warm season grasses are growing the most in the spring when soil temperatures are between 75˚ to 85˚ F.

For cool season grasses, such as Perennial Ryegrass and Bluegrass, roots grow the best when temperatures are between 60 to 75˚ F and roots grow best when soil temperatures are between 50 to 65˚ F. Core aeration for cool season grasses can be performed on the lawn now, but it is best to wait a couple more weeks before aerating warm season grasses.

Most lawns don’t need to be seeded in the spring. Even a thinning lawn will improve dramatically over the next couple of months. Also, if a lawn is seeded in the spring, it will be difficult if not impossible to control annual grassy weeds like crabgrass or to control germinating broadleaf weeds like dandelions.

Spring fertilization is also important to get your lawn off to a good start and “wake up” from dormancy. Contact your local neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green to schedule your important spring fertilization treatment for a green, healthy turf this season.  Be sure to learn more about our additional services, such as core aeration, that we have to offer to help you enjoy your lawn and landscape this spring!

Life Cycle of Winter Annual Weeds In Your Lawn and Landscape

winter annual weeds

In the world of weeds, there are three different life cycles – annual, biennial and perennial. Annuals only live for one growing period, biennials live for two years and perennials live for more than two years. Among these life cycles, there is also a distinct as to when the initial germination takes place. The common thought is that all weeds germinate in the spring, but many of them germinate in the fall, such as Dandelions, Henbit and Shepard’s Purse. These life cycles are referred to as winter germinating weeds.

Winter Annual Weeds In Your Landscape

Winter annual weeds are often the first ones seen in the spring. The germination process usually begins in the fall and the plants persist over the winter in a vegetative state. They can survive freezing temperatures and be ready to start growing again once the weather begins to warm up in the spring.

As the weather warms up, the plant will begin to bolt, or send up a flower stalk or stem as their life cycle continues. This is the time that the plant produces seeds to perpetuate the species. By that time, the weather has usually started to get warmer, which signals to the winter annuals that their life cycle has come to an end.

It is important to remember that when a plant produces flowers, it also is creating seeds and those seeds will be present in the lawn to germinate the following fall and the whole process will start again. Applying weed control products in the spring is important, but it is equally important to treat a lawn for weeds in the fall as well.

Common First Winter Annual Weeds of Spring

Henbit

Henbit is a member of the mint family and has square stems with opposite leaves. It has pink to purple flowers and usually grows about 6 inches high in the Midwest. The plant has circular or rounded leaves with rounded teeth on the leaf edge or margin.

Shephard’s Purse

Shepherd’s Purse grows 3 to 18 inches tall and forms a rosette that is like a dandelion. The main difference between the two plants, besides the obvious of a Dandelion being a perennial and Shepherd’s Purse being an annual, is the shape and direction of the lobs on the leaves. The lobs on a Dandelion point back to the center of the rosette while the lobs of Shepard’s Purse point straight out from the mid vein. The seedpods are heart shaped and contain hundreds of seeds.

Common Chickweed

Chickweed has a shallow fibrous root which grows best in moist, cool shaded areas. It has small white flowers with 5 petals that are split almost to the base. The leaves are bright green and are about ½ inch long, smooth and sharply pointed.

Prickly Lettuce

The distinguishing feature of this weed is the deeply lobed leaves with a prominent row of spines on the underside of the mid vein.

Catchweed Bedstraw

This weed also has square stems with short hooks on the stems. It grows best moist shady areas. The hooked spines cling to just about everything and are difficult to remove. And it was used as a filling for mattresses.

There’s a lot more types of winter annual weeds. These weeds may be growing in your lawn now, but remember, they actually starting growing last fall. They will die when the weather turns warmer, but they will leave behind hundreds of seeds, ready to germinate again next fall. If you have any questions, feel free to contact your local Spring-Green!

How Cooler Temperatures Are Affecting Lawn and Landscape

Is It Spring Yet?

As is the case with most years, sometimes it will warm up early, fooling a lot of plants, including turfgrasses, to start the annual spring green-up. Only to be broadsided with an arctic blast and cooler temperatures that pushes plants back into winter dormancy.

Cool-season turfgrasses like bluegrass, ryegrass and the fescues are somewhat accustomed to these weather fluctuations, but the warm-season grasses, such as Centipede, St. Augustine and Bermuda grasses can be greatly affected by a cold snap after they have been coaxed into an early spring green-up by an early warm up. Such is the case with many lawns in the warmer parts of the United States.

Roland Freund, Franchise Owner in the Houston, Texas area, posted some information on his Facebook page about lawns in his area that are turning a purplish color due to some cooler temperatures that have pushed southward. Turf turning a purple color is often a sign of stress and when warm season grasses that have started to come out of winter dormancy get hit with freezing temperatures, the result can cause turf to turn an off-color. Luckily, it is a temporary condition and the turf generally recovers on its own.

Some warm-season grasses that have started to green-up can display an usual camouflage-like pattern when subjected to cooler to freezing temperatures, such as what you see in the picture below. This can happen to Bermuda and Zoysia grasses. Just as is the case with St. Augustine, this is a temporary problem and the grasses usually grow starting growing and the damage disappears as new grass blades cover up the blades that have turned brown.

grass in cooler temperatures
The one unknown for warm-season turfgrass lawns is how the extremely cold temperatures that affected much of the South in early to mid-January. Temperatures in the single digits is a common occurrence in the areas where cool-season turfgrasses grow, but this year many parts of the south experienced near record setting cold weather for an extended period. It is still a little early to tell if those temperatures had a lasting effect on lawns and landscapes in the South. I will tell you that I was conducting a training session in Lake Charles, Louisiana towards the end of January, and I saw many palms trees whose fronds were badly damaged by the cold weather. It is going to take some time for those trees and the lawns to recover from the cooler temperatures.

Caring for warm-season turfgrass lawns at this time of year focuses on controlling existing winter weeds and preventing the growth of annual grasses like crabgrass and goosegrass. Weeds are much more durable than turfgrasses and will quickly come back from the onslaught of freezing temperatures. It is almost time to start fertilizing these grasses, but patience is necessary. Applying fertilizer too early can have detrimental to these grasses.

As the South gets ready for the beginning of spring, what about the lawns and landscapes in the cool-season areas? Spring applications have started for lawns in the Transition Zone where Tall Fescue is the predominate turfgrass. Except for parts of Northern California, Oregon and Washington, it is still too early to prepare for the first application of spring.

It is a best practice to wait until the ground is no longer frozen to apply the first application. In many northern states, this is mandated by law to prevent run-off from fertilizer or weed control products off of the frozen ground. It is still early and spring will be here before we know it, unless, of course, the area is hit with a late winter storm – not an uncommon occurrence in March or even early April. The best thing to do is make sure the lawn mower is tuned up and plan ahead for the season. Spring is just around the corner, so remember you can count on your local Spring-Green to make sure your lawn looks green, and thick for the upcoming season!