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Exploring Womanhood > Heart of the Home > Gardening > General Gardening & Landscaping

March for a Better Lawn
by Carrie P. Williams

March is here, and the landscape is already showing signs of waking up from winter. Birds are singing, flowers are beginning to creep into your vision, and . . . what's this? The lawn is beginning to emerge as well. With the colors of green beginning to spring up, many lawn care questions spring into the mind as well. When should I mow? Should I fertilize? What about those obnoxious weeds? In order to obtain a wonderful turf area for the coming warmer months, good lawn maintenance starts now.

Turfgrass can be split into two broad categories: warm season grasses and cool season grasses. Warm season grasses include varieties like Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass, and grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue are part of the cool season section. The category of grass you have in your landscape dictates what kind of maintenance practices should be performed on your lawn at this time of the year.

Warm season grasses are actively growing from March to October, which means they are just now gearing up for a new season. Now is a good time to curb weed growth by having a pre-emergent herbicide applied to your lawn areas. This application will prevent any weed seeds from germinating, therefore stopping weeds before they start. Pre-emergent application can be performed on both warm and cool season grasses at this time of year. To have your lawn receive the ideal pre-emergent application, it is usually best to have a professional service perform this task.

Another maintenance issue that will spring back up this month for warm season grass varieties is mowing. Yes, before you know it, your turfgrass will be actively growing, and it will be time for a haircut. It is considered best to mow your lawn when the height of your grass reaches a length 1/3 greater than the recommended growing height for your grass variety.

Cool season grasses are actively growing from September to May, which means they are heading into the end of their growing season and they will soon be going dormant. If needed, now is a good time to fertilize your lawn. You don't necessarily have to fertilize your lawn every year; you can run a soil test to help you decide if the extra nutrients are needed. If the test shows that it would be beneficial to amend the soil with fertilizer, find a good fertilizer that is recommended for your variety of grass.

Another maintenance practice that can be performed during this month for cool season grasses is aeration. This is accomplished with an aeration machine, which creates small holes in the turf with metal tines. Some machines use hollow metal tines to actually remove small plugs of grass and soil. This helps to alleviate compaction of the soil and removes thatch, which can cause problems for the grass if built up in large amounts. Aeration is not considered a routine maintenance practices for all grasses; it is usually only performed on an as-needed basis.

Establishing excellent lawn health starts now. Whether your lawn is in need of mowing, weed control, fertilization, or aeration, providing what it needs now will ensure less maintenance problems down the road. By determining the needs of your specific lawn and providing for those needs, you will be well on your way to creating a beautiful, emerald green lawn that you and your family can enjoy year-round.

Carrie P. Williams is a professional landscape designer with Turf Tamer, Inc. She has written many informative landscaping articles for Turf Tamer's Tip of the Week program. Want to learn more landscaping tips and tricks? Go to http://www.turftamerinc.com to find more tips.

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