Spring is here! The trees are budding and we are starting to see tiny blades of new growth popping up in the lawns. What a beautiful site! Now, what should you be doing to ensure that your lawn gets the best possible start this spring?
Is it MOW time?
Starting your weekly mowing regimen ASAP will help control any unwanted weeds you are seeing in your landscape. Mowing will help grassy weeds to die off faster and keep broadleaf weeds from seeding out.
Mowing this time of year is key!
Mowing causes stress on the grassy weeds due to the energy it takes for them to regrow. The more often you mow the more stressed they will become causing them to go to seed earlier, thus ending their life cycle. As the weeds become weakened, this allows more water and nutrient uptake for your newly awakened grass! Also, keeping the weeds at bay will prevent them from going to seed and repopulating.
Remember - Mowing at the right height matters. The goal right now is to mow off the blooms of the weeds, but not mow off more than ⅓ of your existing grass blade in a single session. Mowing too short could shock your lawn and also reduce moisture retention. Also, lawns mowed too short will become stressed and be more attractive to pests and diseases.
Start paying attention to your watering!
This time of year is great because we are usually in no shortage for rain. As the temperatures stay mild, run your system every 6 days if we don’t get a good rain in between. Be mindful of the times you are running your system and for how long. If you are over watering you will be susceptible to fungal issues like Brown Patch. Although Brown Patch does not kill the grass, it is no sight for sore eyes. Follow our watering guide below for the best results!
Give your lawn some food!
If you are on our Soil Building Program then we’ve got this one covered for you!
A good nitrogen source helps promote leaf growth for all plants so this is crucial for this time of year. Know that as your plants emerge from dormancy and finish flowering, they are going to need a boost of fertilizer to replenish spent resources. It takes a lot of energy to push out all of that new growth and flowers; by feeding in the spring, you’ll help your lawn and landscape plants look their best for the rest of the year.
It's not over yet, but much like last winter, we are seeing unseasonably high temperatures that trigger weed seed germination. If you already see green patches of weeds that sprouted in fall growing in your lawn right now, it's time to start pulling these weeds, and start your spring mowing early. This simple step will help control these weeds before they can grow strong, bloom and then produce seed for next year, continually coming back year after year.
Dandelions are pesky warm weather weeds.
What’s your main objective by mowing early?
The goal is to remove the the flower heads from the growing weed. To control the weeds, set your mower height a little higher. Be sure not to scalp unnecessarily and can promote stress in your dormant grass. By mowing off the flowers before they go to seed, you can dramatically cut down on the spread of weeds this spring.
Growing St. Augustinegrass? Learn which height it favors HERE.
Your organically maintained lawn can actually be healthier with a bit of diversity. A variety of grasses, including a few weeds, creates an environment more tolerant of pests and diseases, as opposed to a monoculture (only one species) of one warm season grass. Monocultures of plants can lead to large populations of that plant dying out because of diseases specific to it. Eradicating everything is not imperative and some weeds can be tolerated. However, certain weeds will take over an area in your lawn and when they complete their life cycle, they leave behind bare patches, an invitation for more weed seeds to plant themselves and colonize.
How’s your soil?
Keep in mind that weeds can sometimes be an indicator of poor soil. Cultivated plants often struggle in soil that is compacted and low in nutrients. Grass won't grow into brick-like soil, but many weeds thrive in these conditions.
Steps to invite grass-runners to begin to grow again.
Aeration is effective in problem areas to break up compacted soil. Focusing on smaller spots using a tool specifically for aeration or a digging fork, loosen the dirt and poke a few holes through the surface. Low nutrient soil is typically in need of organic matter. Sprinkling compost into the area now loosened is another way to make it more favorable for grass to regrow.
Cultivating healthy soil is the best way to grow vigorous plants and your lawn is no exception. Our job is to help you improve the soil around your home and landscape to make your grass, trees and shrubs flourish.
Whether you love or hate weeding your garden, it’s a task that’s a must in both organic and non-organically maintained landscapes. Even when chemical herbicides are used, you’ll still need to remove certain weeds by hand to ensure their eradication. Even so, even the most meticulously maintained landscapes will still have a few weeds.
Getting weed populations under control can be difficult at first, but with dedication it is possible to greatly reduce weeds the natural way. As your soil becomes healthier and grass grows thicker, weeds will be choked out over time.
As always, the best medicine is prevention. Stopping the spread of weeds before they get out of control is the best way to reduce weeding tasks. When removing weeds from your garden, time is of the essence. The goal is to interrupt the flowering cycle before new weeds can germinate. Pulling or cutting down weeds before they flower will reduce the spread of the weeds in your garden. If you don’t have time to pull weeds by hand, mowing will stop flowering and seeding.
In the Weeds? Learn why some weeds invade your lawn and why you should tolerate some of them!
Weeds are often an indicator of poor soil conditions, soil compaction, or nutrient deficiencies. As you condition your soil and increase microbe populations, weeds reduce as they tend not to thrive in fertile soil. Existing plants will become stronger with improved soil conditions and this can help choke out weeds from your garden. Using corn gluten pre emergent can help cut down on new weed seed germination.
From the Roots Up
When removing weeds it’s very important to remove the entire root system. Root systems can vary greatly from species to species. For example, if you remove a dandelion from the surface or only partially remove the tap root, the weed can regrow. The same holds true for many other perennial weeds. Some weeds, such as Nutsedge, have small tubers that connect multiple plants. When pulling nutsedge it’s important to remove the entire plant, root system and “nuts”. The best way to cut down on nutsedge is to physically pull plants before they have 5 leaves.
While weeding your garden by hand may not seem like the most exciting task, it can actually be very good for your mind and body (or that of your children!). Use your weeding time to get some fresh air and exercise. If you compost, weeds make a valuable addition to the compost pile and can return many valuable nutrients to your landscape. Have backyard chickens? Weeds make great chicken treats!
For details on specific weeds invading North Texas lawns now, visit our Weed ID Guide.