With Spring finally settling in, it’s time to tune up the lawn mower and uncoil the hoses. Warmth and sunshine are bringing out emerald green lawns, along with plenty of weeds that seem to have popped up on the first warm day.
With a little TLC, your lawn will be healthy and ready to thrive when temperatures rise this summer.
Spring is an ideal time to fertilize your lawn in Denver. Feeding now will green up the grass after winter dormancy and strengthen it for the coming summer.
Don’t over-fertilize and beware of high-nitrogen fertilizers. Unless your grass is yellow or greenish-yellow, which indicates a nutrient deficiency, there is no need to use them.
Go easy on weed and feed fertilizer unless you have a serious weed problem; the weed killer in the mixture can weaken trees and other nearby plants. Usually, a high quality, complete lawn fertilizer will contain all the nutrients your lawn needs. If you aren’t sure, a soil test is always a good idea.
Water deeply the day before you apply fertilizer, then water lightly afterwards – just enough to wash the fertilizer off the blades.
Water your lawn when the soil is dry; not by the calendar. A healthy lawn may require a couple of inches of water every week (or more) during hot, dry weather. But in spring, an inch of water or rain per week is usually sufficient. Other factors to consider: clay needs more water than sand, and lawn in full sun needs more water than one in the shade.
Avoid shallow, frequent irrigation. Instead, water deeply and allow the soil to dry before watering again. This way, you encourage development of a long, healthy root system. In Denver, watering in the morning is an ideal way to limit evaporation and use water more efficiently.
A healthy lawn can tolerate periods of drought. However, too much drought stress will weaken the grass.
If you aren’t sure whether it’s time to water, your lawn will let you know when it’s thirsty. For example, if you notice a wilted appearance and a grayish-purple tint, or if your lawn shows footprints after an hour, it’s time to water.
The first rule of mowing is to never scalp your lawn. Scalped lawns are more susceptible to damage by disease and insects. Most lawns in Denver are cool season grass types that thrive when mowed to a height of about 3 inches.
Frequency of mowing in Colorado depends on weather conditions, the type of grass, and what time of the season you are in. You may need to mow every few days, or only two or three times per month.
Unless the grass is very tall, leave the clippings on the lawn. They act as a natural fertilizer by decomposing to provide necessary nutrients to the soil. A mulching mower makes the job easy, but a regular mower will also work.
Sharpen your lawn mowers blades every fourth mowing. Your grass will be healthier and more attractive with clean cuts, not ragged, frayed blades.
An aerator is a piece of equipment that removes small plugs from the lawn, thus getting things off to a healthy start in spring. Aeration improves air circulation, loosens compacted soil and improves your lawn’s ability to absorb water.
Water before aerating so the plugs pull out easily. Don’t worry about raking up the plugs; they will decompose quickly as you mow and water.
If you don’t have an aerator, you can rent one at your local garden center. To save costs, share the machine with neighbors and split the expense, or hire a lawn care company to do the work for you.