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Late Spring Lawn Care Tips

Late Spring Lawn Care Tips

In the early spring, your lawn was waking up after the less active winter. Early
spring lawn care meant fighting back weeds, helping seedlings grow, and taking care of any damage that
was done to the lawn by leaves, debris, or frost over the winter months.

Now it is late spring and your focus should change. Your lawn’s needs are much different. The growth
phase of your lawn is about to begin and you need to do everything you can to support it. That means
strengthening your lawn by supplying the nutrients it needs to grow, helping it crowd out the weeds
that can restrict its growth, and control pests like beetles and grubs.

Over the next several weeks we’re going to be covering our most important tips for your lawn in the
late spring to make it as healthy as possible heading into the hot and stressful summer. We’re going to
cover:

  1. Do you need a soil test
    2. Determine your lawn goals
    3. Should you fertilize in the late spring
    4. What is the right fertilizer for you
    5. How should fertilizer be applied
    6. When should fertilizer be applied
    7. Other tips for fertilizing your lawn
    8. Should you aerate and seed in the late spring
    9. What grasses do best in Northern Virginia
    10. What type of seed do you need
    11. What to do after you seed
    12. Do you have a grub problem?
    13. Can grubs be good for your lawn
    14. Can grubs be bad for your lawn

If you have any questions about taking care of your lawn in the late spring feel free to contact us here on Facebook or with any of the methods below. Have a great day!

get a soil test

Do You Need A Soil Test?

At Mow Cow Lawn And Landscape, we are big believers in Soil Tests.

Why?

Because just as you would want your doctor to run tests on you to determine your best course of action before beginning treatment, we want to do the same before starting a treatment plan for your lawn.

If you were getting plenty of vitamin C, A, or D the last thing you would want is for your doctor to prescribe that you take MORE of that vitamin because you’d either be wasting it or it could cause you health problems.

If your soil is already rich in nitrogen, we do not want to put more nitrogen on top of it. We’ll be wasting fertilizer, possibly hurting your lawn, and even giving it a chemical burn. We test our lawn care clients’ lawns regularly to make sure that the soil amendments we are making to their lawns are working.

We also want to react quickly as the nutrient levels in our client’s lawns change. Our goal is to cultivate balanced soil that is the right environment for growing grass in our client’s yard. That means testing and retesting so we know what the current environment is and can adjust accordingly.

If you have never had a soil test performed on your lawn then we definitely recommend having a soil test performed. In fact, it would be best to have multiple soil tests performed as the nutrient level in the soil can change drastically in different sections of your lawn.

If it has been a few years since you’ve had a soil test performed then we recommend having your soil tested again to see if any new amendments are needed.

If you had your soil tested recently, but are making amendments to your soil, we recommend having your soil tested to see if those amendments are working.

If you had your soil tested recently and found that you have a good environment for growing grass and haven’t made any amendments recently then you can probably hold off on a test at this time.

your lawn care goals

Determine Your Lawn Care Goals

There is no one size fits all Lawn Care Plan. As the saying goes, a goal without a plan is a wish, but you want the right plan for the right wish.

You will want to figure out your individual lawn care goal, but we generally see them break down into three general goals:

1️⃣ I want a Picture-Perfect Lawn
2️⃣ I want a Lawn that is a good as the neighbor’s lawn
3️⃣ I want a good enough looking lawn with little maintenance

Each goal has different requirements and necessities to achieve.

⭐⭐⭐Picture Perfect Lawn
A picture-perfect lawn requires a good amount of maintenance and will mean being on your toes based on weather conditions. Rain, sun, and heat conditions can all wreak havoc on your plans, but here are some general guidelines you can use:
1. Get your soil tested. If you truly want a picture-perfect lawn that means knowing the nutrient
needs of every part of your lawn because they can vary wildly from section to section.
2. Apply weed preemergent. Weeds tend to fill in bare spots in the winter and even more sprout in
the spring. By late spring, you should have already put down your preemergent, but if you have not done so asap to give it enough time to work prior to seeding. If you plan on seeding consider using a “seed safe” preemergent.
3. Fertilize your lawn regularly. Once every 6-8 weeks during the growth phase, add nutrients based on your soil test results. If your soil needs a lot of organic matter consider using a product like bio-char to jump-start your results.
4. Aerate and seed your lawn. Over time your soil will compact, making it harder for nutrients to
reach your roots and making it more difficult for your roots to grow. Aerate your lawn prior to
seeding for optimal nutrient dispersal and soil to seed contact.
5. Stay on top of bare spots. Any number of problems can cause a bare spot on your lawn. Something as simple as the family dog has a favorite spot on the lawn to use to go to the bathroom can cause a bare spot. Walk around your lawn once a week and look for any bare spots. Bare spots do not require complete reseeding, but you should hand seed bare spots on your lawn and make sure they are properly watered to ensure grass fills in the bare spot.

⭐⭐A Lawn As Good As My Neighbor’s Lawn
1. Get a Soil Test. Yes, again. No matter your lawn care goals you will need a soil test to help you get there.
2. Fertilize at least once this spring based on your soil test results.
3. Stay on top of bare spots. If you don’t desire a “picture-perfect” lawn then you can get away with checking for bare spots once or twice a month.

⭐A Good Enough Looking Lawn:
1. Get a soil test.
2. Fertilize your lawn at least once this spring.

To Fertilize or not to fertilize

What is the best time of year to fertilize?

🌿If you’ve decided that you want to do just enough to keep your lawn looking healthy then you are probably only fertilizing your lawn once a year. If you’re in a cool-season grass area then you’ll want to hold off on fertilizing until the fall when the cool-season grasses are growing. If you’re in a warm-season grass area then you should have already fertilized your lawn. If you haven’t then now is the time.

🌿Homeowners often ask when the best time of year to fertilize their lawn. The answer unfortunately is “it depends.”
If you’ve decided that you want to do just enough to keep your lawn looking healthy then you are probably only fertilizing your lawn once a year. If you’re in a cool-season grass area then you’ll want to hold off on fertilizing until the fall when the cool-season grasses are growing. If you’re in a warm-season grass area then you should have already fertilized your lawn. If you haven’t then now is the time.

🌿If you want to do more than the bare minimum, however, then you’ll be fertilizing your lawn at least twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall. If you haven’t given your lawn its spring treatment yet then do that asap as your grass is entering its growth phase.

🌿If you want to do more than the bare minimum, however, then you’ll be fertilizing your lawn at least twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall. If you haven’t given your lawn its spring treatment yet then do that asap as your grass is entering its growth phase.

How To Choose The Right Fertilizer for your lawn

How To Choose The Right Fertilizer for Your Lawn

🌱If you decide to fertilize in the spring then the next question is, “𝐖𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐈 𝐮𝐬𝐞?”

🌱If you have been keeping up with our Late Spring Lawn Care Tips then you’re going to see a theme, first, you should get a soil test. The fertilizer you choose is going to depend on the nutrient needs of your lawn. Second, what type of fertilizer is right for you? Third, do you want to use regular fertilizer, or do you want to “weed & feed?”

🌱The results of your soil test will give you a lot of insight into the fertilizer that you should use, especially its chemical content.

🌱The basic chemicals in fertilizer include nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. What varies is the amount of each. To determine chemical content look at the side of the bad. You will see big numbers. If the bag says, “15-8-2” that means the bag contains, 15% nitrogen, 8% phosphorous and 2% potassium.

🌱Each of these chemicals helps your lawn in a different way. Nitrogen stimulates growth to create a lush, green carpet of grass above the ground. Phosphorous stimulates the growth of roots beneath the ground. Potassium helps you lawn become more sturdy and resistant to changes in the weather and helps protect it from the disease.

🌱At MowCow we use special custom blending fertilizer that was created exclusively for us. It is formulated to work on the soil commonly found here in Northern Virginia. Additionally, as an organic based, environmentally conscious, bay friendly lawn care company, we formulate our fertilizers to get the best results with as little potentially harmful chemical content as possible.

🌱There are many different types of fertilizers and the one that is right for you depends on a number of factors including personal preference. The four main types are: Granular, Liquid, Organic & Synthetic.

🌿🌿𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫🌿🌿

🌱Granular fertilizer are small pellets of fertilizer. There are two main types: time-release and fast-acting. Time released fertilizer is more expensive. It needs to be applied less often as it slowly releases fertilizer over time hence the name. You are much less likely to over-fertilize and burn your lawn with time-release fertilizer. Fast acting fertilizer needs to be applied more often as its chemicals are released into your lawn all at once. You also need to be more careful with fast-acting fertilizer as too much of it can burn your lawn.🌱

🌿🌿𝐋𝐢𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐝🌿🌿

🌱Liquid fertilizer is a concentrated form of fertilizer. It is applied with a special dispersing spray bottle that attaches to the end of garden hose. One of the advantages of liquid fertilizer over granular fertilizer is ease of use. There are no 25-50 lbs bags to haul around. Liquid fertilizer also acts quickly to treat your lawn. There is also less chance of burning your lawn with liquid fertilizer, but you still need to be careful. The drawbacks of liquid fertilizer are, it is more expensive and since it acts fast you’ll need to apply it more often.🌱

🌿🌿𝐎𝐫𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐜🌿🌿

🌱At MowCow we are big fans of organic fertilizers. We are an organic based company that prides ourselves on being environmentally friendly and bay conscious. Organic fertilizers come from plant, animals and their by-products. Depending on what type they can be applied in the same way as non-organic fertilizers. They are great for your soil and for amending your lawn’s nutrients. The main drawbacks of organic fertilizer are, they tend to be a little slower acting and they often have a very strong odor.🌱

🌿🌿𝐒𝐲𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐜🌿🌿
Synthetic fertilizer is made in a laboratory. The benefit of this is they can be formulated to fit very specific chemical compositions. Synthetic fertilizers tend to be very fast acting. The drawbacks are they are typically not environmentally friendly and they do not have the staying power of organic fertilizers and need to be applied more often.

How To Apply Fertilizer

How To Apply Fertilizer

The first and most important step to applying fertilizer is to get a soil test. You want to know your soil’s nutrient needs before applying fertilizer. Be sure to take samples from several locations around your lawn as nutrient needs can vary wildly.

🌱𝐀𝐩𝐩𝐥𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫 𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐫🌱

If you have chosen to use granular fertilizer you have several options for application: hand-crank, drop spreader and broadcast spreader

A hand-crank spreader is a small device you carry with you as you walk around your lawn. You feed a small amount of fertilizer into the hand-crank at a time. Turning the crank on the device manually shoots out the fertilizer onto the lawn in the space around you in a circular pattern. Hand-cranks are inexpensive, but they are typically only effective for fertilizing small areas as it is very time-consuming to keep re-loading the spreader.

🌱𝐃𝐫𝐨𝐩 𝐒𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫🌱

A drop spreader is similar in concept to a hand-crank, but is more effective for fertilizing larger areas. A drop spreader holds a large container of fertilizer. The fertilizer sits between two wheels. As you push the drop spreader you squeeze a trigger to activate the drop spreader and fertilizer drops out of the bottom of the spreader as you walk along. If you monitor the track marks of the spreader you can track where you have fertilized and achieve very even coverage.

🌱𝐁𝐫𝐨𝐚𝐝𝐜𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐒𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫🌱

A broadcast spreaders applies the principles of the hand-crank and the drop spreader. A broadcast spreader spreads fertilizer in a circular pattern like a hand-crank, but like a drop spreader it can hold a large bag of fertilizer so you don’t need to refill it as often. A broadcast spreader covers a large area quickly, but it is harder to ensure even coverage like you can with a drop spreader.

🌱𝐋𝐢𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐝 𝐅𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐫 🌱

Liquid fertilizer is applied by pouring the concentrated liquid into a bottle sprayer. The bottle sprayer is then connected to a garden hose. You simply walk around your lawn and use the trigger on the bottle sprayer to disperse your fertilizer around your lawn. This method can be very quick, but it is difficult to judge how evenly you are spreading your fertilizer.

When To Apply Fertilizer

When should you apply fertilizer

🌿If you decide that it fits your lawn care goes to apply fertilizer in the spring then you’re going to want to make the most of it and apply your fertilizer at the right time. We are often asked, “What is the best day to fertilize my lawn?

🌿This isn’t a question of Monday versus Tuesday. It’s more a question of what is the weather like and what is the weather going to be like.

🌿The best day to fertilize is a day when your lawn and grass are dry. If the grass and lawn is dry then the fertilizer can fall down into the grass and make contact with the soil. If the grass is wet then the fertilizer will often stick to the wet blades of grass.

🌿Next, you’ll want to choose a day before a good solid slow rain is forecast. You DO NOT want a torrential downpour or heavy thundershower. Those tend to most too quickly and wash away your fertilizer. A long slow soaking rain till allow the fertilizer to soak into the soil and give you maximum benefit.

Fertilize Your Lawn

Other lawn fertilization tips

🌿🌿𝐎𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐢𝐩𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐚𝐰𝐧🌿🌿

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of fertilizing your lawn here are some additional tips to help you get the best results and keep you safe while working on your lawn.

When pouring fertilizer, whether into a hand-crank, drop spreader or broadcast spreader ALWAYS do it over your driveway or another hard surface. No matter how tempting it is to save time NEVER pour fertilizer over your lawn. One slip up and you’ll dump a pile of fertilizer in one spot and guarantee your lawn a chemical burn.

Do not over-fertilize. In this case, more is not better. Just as a human being can take in too many vitamins, minerals, and even water, your lawn can do the same. Too much fertilizer will burn your lawn and cause significant damage. Be aware and careful how much you apply and where you apply it.

🌿𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐫 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐞𝐟𝐭 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐫🌿

Fertilizer is composed of chemicals. When used and disposed of properly they are safe, but if not used and disposed of properly they can be dangerous.

Do not simply pour it down a storm drain. This is harmful to local waterways and damaging to the environment. In many places, it is also illegal. Call the county to ask how to properly dispose of fertilizer where you live.

If you have enough fertilizer left over to store, be sure to store it out of the reach of kids and pets. Fertilizers can be dangerous if ingested. Also, keep your remaining fertilizer in a cool dry place to maintain its effectiveness.

🌿🌿𝐖𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝐀 𝐌𝐚𝐬𝐤 & 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐫🌿🌿

No matter which method you choose for spreading your fertilizer, some will be dispersed into the air. In order to protect your lungs and keep from breathing in the chemicals in the fertilizer, wear a breathing mask and respirator. They will protect you and keep you from breathing in fertilizer that is dispersed into the air. Wear gloves, long pants, and long sleeves when working with fertilizer.

Whether you are working with synthetic or organic fertilizer you will want to minimize its contact with your skin. It is very tempting not to wear the proper protective clothing when working in the yard on a nice late spring day, but the chemical compounds in fertilizer can irritate your skin. Be especially careful not to rub your eyes, ears, or mouth while you are working with fertilizer.

Aeration and Seeding

Should you aerate and seed in the late spring

Whether or not you should aerate and seed your lawn in the late spring depends on a number of factors including your lawn care goals, soil test results, and the lawn care efforts that you have made earlier in the spring. If you haven’t read our earlier late spring lawn care tips, review them for more information on those reasons.

If your lawn care goals are to simply have a good enough-looking lawn with little maintenance or you just want to keep up with your neighbors or you aerated and seeded your lawn earlier in the spring then you may not need to aerate and seed your lawn in the late spring.

If, however, you want a picture-perfect lawn or you haven’t aerated and seeded your lawn this spring or you need to make several amendments to your lawn’s chemical composition in order to get the results you want then aeration and seeding your lawn in the late spring is the right choice.

Aeration breaks up the soil that can become compacted in the winter. This allows nutrients to penetrate deeper into the soil and create a greater seed to soil contact in your lawn when you lay down the seed. If your lawn isn’t giving you the results you want historically or this spring then we would recommend aeration and seeding in the late spring before the summer heat hits.

What Grasses Do Best In Northern Virginia

What grasses do the best in Northern Virginia

There are two main types of turf grass. Cool Season Grasses and Warm Season Grasses. Cool Season Grasses including Bentgrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Rough Bluegrass, Red Fescue, Annual Ryegrass, and Perennial Ryegrass, actively grow their roots in the spring and fall. Warm Season Grasses like Bahia Grass, Bermuda Grass, Buffalo Grass, Centipede Grass, St. Augustine Grass, and Zoysia Grass actively grow their roots in the late spring and summer.

Generally, the Northern US States do best with cool-season grassed and the southern US states do best with warm-season grasses. Our area falls into what is known as The Transition Zone. The transition zone can make lawn maintenance a challenge because it generally features hot humid summers AND cold winters.

So which grasses do best in the transition zone? Typically we recommend sticking to cool-season turf grass that is hearty enough to withstand a hot, humid summer. Some examples of hearty cool-season turfgrass include tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, fine-leaf fescue, and perennial ryegrass.

When You Should Seed Your Lawn

When should you seed your lawn

If you checked out our Late Spring Lawn Care Tip #8 then you already know that we recommend hearty cool-season grasses to get the best results for lawns in Northern Virginia. Cool Season grasses actively grow their roots and spring and fall.

But does this mean you should plant a seed in the spring and fall?

The answer is… maybe.

In most cases, late spring is not the ideal time to plant grass in Northern Virginia. Spring conditions are good for growing grass, but there’s not a lot of time before the hot, humid summer weather hits and your lawn is sure to be stressed. This means your grass won’t have as much time to grow the deep and thick root structure necessary to help your grass survive a long hot summer.

So when is it appropriate to seed your lawn in the late spring?

If your lawn is shaded most of the day or if you have bare spots around your lawn. These can respond quite well seeding even in the late spring. As long as you manage your expectations and understand that seeding done in the spring is likely to face a lot of challenges in the summer then you can get some results with spring seeding.

Another option for a homeowner, who is desperate for some grass on their lawn is sod. Sod is like an instant lawn since instead of seeding you are lying down a layer of turfgrass. Sod can give you a great-looking lawn nearly overnight.

The main issue with sod is any underlying nutrient deficiencies in the soil remain unaddressed. If the proper amendments are not made then the sod, no matter how green, plush and beautiful is destined to die because it will not have access to the nutrients required for growth.

Sod looks nice, but without the proper underlying nutrition, it is like putting a bandaid on a gaping wound.

What you should do after you seed your lawn

What should you do after you seed your lawn

After you seed your lawn it is important to make sure your seed is properly hydrated and receives the proper nutrition if it is going to have any chance of growing.

New grass seedlings have poorly developed root systems. They can not efficiently absorb nutrients from the soil until their root systems develop.

This is why it is important to water and fertilize after seeding to give your seed the best opportunity to grow.

1️⃣First, apply fertilizer right after planting your grass seed. Use a starter fertilizer to give your new seed a boost, but do not over-fertilize as your seed is vulnerable to burning. Water your seed 2-3 times each day while they are growing. Keep the soil moist. When you see the grass sprout and start to grow cut back the number of times you water.

2️⃣Second, four to six weeks after seeding, depending on the grass you used, apply more fertilizer to your newly seeded area. Again a starter fertilizer is a good choice. Do not over-fertilize. Continue to water your lawn regularly to keep the soil and your seed hydrated, but be careful not to over-water and create an environment where pests and disease can thrive.

3️⃣Third, four to six weeks after your second fertilizer application, apply fertilizer again. This time you won’t need a starter fertilizer but could use a more general use fertilizer as your grass will have had some time to take root. If you are seeing some weed growth you could consider using a herbicide, but be very careful in general mowing will control weed growth for the time being.

Are grubs a problem

Are Grubs a Problem

Often in the spring, you might spy some little white dots on your plants and shrubs. By the late spring, those dots have turned into creepy-crawly nasty-looking grubs.

What does this mean for your plants and lawn?

Do you need to get rid of them?

The answers might surprise you.

First, grubs are not worms. Grubs are the larval stage of beetles. While they are kind of nasty looking in general grubs aren’t a problem and you don’t need to eradicate them and kill every last one. It is totally normal to have some grubs on your lawn.

Most grubs do little to no harm to your lawn and plants. Even though grubs feed on spring grassroots, you need a lot of grubs to cause a problem so generally, you don’t need to consider using a chemical insecticide to get rid of them.

After several weeks, the grubs will dig down into the soil and pupate in order to develop into adult beetles. Additionally, if you apply broad-spectrum insecticide chances are you will also kill many of the helpful insects that are beneficial to your lawn.

Can grubs be good for your lawn

Can grubs be good for your lawn

Grubs are part of the natural order of things. As long as they are kept in balance they won’t do a great deal of damage to your lawn. If, however, they over-multiply then they can cause problems. Additionally, if you are in a more rural or wooded location then grub-hunters like raccoons and skunks can cause significant damage to your lawn as they look for the grubs they find so tasty.

In general, between 5-10 grubs per square foot of turfgrass will be okay. The grubs will eat some of the roots of your grass and even have a “de-thatching” effect on the soil which can be somewhat beneficial. When grubs over-multiply and more than 10 per square foot appear then your grass is threatened. Additionally, if you start noticing that your grass is dug up and torn up in sections around your lawn then you might have an issue with raccoons and skunks searching for grubs in your lawn. The only effective way to stop this problem is to treat your lawn for grubs. As a by-product, this will push the raccoons, skunks, and other grub hunters away.

can grubs be bad for your lawn

Can grubs be bad for your lawn

Under normal conditions, grubs are a perfectly normal part of the ecosystem of your grass and won’t cause major issues or problems. There are, however, conditions under which you will need to control the grub population and possibly even employ an insecticide.

First, the easiest way to control the grub population is to control their food source. Grub feed on the thatch layer of your turfgrass. The more thatch you have the more grubs like it and the more grubs you will have. In addition to being a breeding ground for grubs, thatch can keep your lawn from growing by blocking sunlight and nutrients from reaching your grass and its roots. If you haven’t already, it is important to dethatch your lawn in the spring and break up any thatch that has built up in your lawn.

Next, you’ll want to determine how widespread grubs are in your lawn. In general, 5-10 grubs per square foot is okay and they won’t damage your lawn. More than that, however, can be a problem.

Some grasses are more grub-resistant than others. Tall fescue grasses withstand more grubs per square foot generally than Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial ryegrass.

Additionally, while grubs themselves can be a problem, grub hunters like skunks and raccoons can be a bigger issue. Grub Hunters will tear up large sections of your turfgrass looking for grubs and if they find them they will return night after night looking for more.

If you discover that you have a grub problem or grub hunters that you can’t control, the most common and unfortunately most effective method of grub control is a chemical insecticide. I say unfortunately because chemical insecticides tend to kill helpful insects in addition to grubs. If you must apply an insecticide, be sure to mow your lawn prior to application. Mowing will cut down any weed flower heads. This will discourage pollinators from visiting your yard after it has been temporarily poisoned by the insecticide.

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