This article was written by August Lietzen, a WinField United Sales Rep specializing in Lawn Care.
TIP NUMBER 1 : Control the Weeds
Controlling weeds is the first step in to having a lawn that is easy to care for, aesthetically pleasing and the envy of the neighbors. The weed that is most notorious for wrecking lawns is a summer annual called “Crabgrass”. Like other summer annuals, crabgrass germinates in the spring, grows out of control through the summer and drops next year’s seeds in the fall. While crabgrass is growing it is robbing your turf of sunlight, water and nutrients – stunting the development of your lawn. By preventing crabgrass and its band of summer annuals you will allow all of your inputs to go directly to your lawn, achieving the first step to a weed free lawn. A very effective way to prevent crabgrass from getting started is using a fertilizer coated with a crabgrass preventer. Gravity G with the crabgrass preventer “Dimension” is a great choice. Dimension herbicide kills summer annuals before they emerge and has the ability to kill juvenile crabgrass after it has emerged. Gravity G with Dimension can safely be used from early April to early May and it will provide season long control of summer annuals.
While Gravity G with Dimension works wonders on crabgrass it does little for Dandelions, Chickweed and Henbit. These are winter annuals. They come to life when the crabgrass is dropping its seeds in the fall. These weeds are germinating and establishing in your lawn in the fall. Because they don’t flower until spring they grow from the fall through the winter and flower in the spring, too late for Gravity G with Dimension to prevent their germination. These weeds will have to be dealt with in a post-emergent fashion. Gravity G fertilizer with Trimec will kill the existing broadleaves. Like all granular post-emergent herbicides Gravity G fertilizer with Trimec is about 85% effective. This means it will not kill all the weeds in one application. It is a best management practice to save back some of the Gravity G with Trimec to spot treat the weeds that are missed with the initial application. If 85% control with spot treatments is not your thing then you can spray Strike 3 herbicide and achieve near perfect control in a single application.
In short, controlling weeds in your lawn is a two step process. First prevent crabgrass and other weeds from emerging this spring by using Gravity G with Dimension, secondly address weeds that started last fall with Gravity G with Trimec or spray “Strike 3”. Just by controlling the weeds you allow your lawn to flourish without the unsightly competition from weeds.
TIP NUMBER 2: Prepare for Summer
Once you have the weeds under control your lawn will need help getting through the summer. Your grass relies on two very important chemical processes, one to make and store food, and one that uses the food to make shoots and roots. The process to make food is called Photosynthesis and the one that uses the food is called Respiration. The Photosynthesis process uses sunlight as energy to gather water and nutrients from the soil and carbon dioxide from the air to make carbohydrates. The carbohydrates are used to store surplus energy for later use. Photosynthesis only happens in sunlight and when the temperature is under 95 degrees. In the summer this means the grass can only make food from sunrise till 10 am some days. Meanwhile the Respiration process happens 24 hours a day 7 days a week all summer long. Even if the plant made food at the same rate it used food you can see that the grass consumes more food in the summer than it can make. In order to help your lawn get through the summer months it needs to have as much food stored in advance as possible. Applying Gravity G Slow Release in late May / early June can help supply the nutrients the grass needs to make the maximum amount of food it needs to make it through the summer months.
In short, late May / early June is the time to apply Gravity G Slow Release to prepare your lawn for the long stressful summer.
TIP NUMBER 3: Building a Thick Lawn
The adage the best defense is a good offense holds true for a good lawn as well. Having a thick lawn eases the pressure from weeds and stresses from the weather. The best time to address thin weak areas in your lawn is in late summer. The week before or after Labor Day is the optimum time to over seed and fertilize your lawn. Many things are happening during these 2 weeks that make it the optimum time to improve your lawn. The day length is getting shorter, the soil temperatures are cooling down and the weather is moderating making it a good time to build a thick lawn. Because the grass is aware the day length is decreasing it begins to prepare for winter. The grass needs help generating new shoots and developing new roots to store food for winter. Gravity G Starter provides additional phosphorus needed for root development. An application of Gravity G Starter not only provides nutrients for root development but it also provides nitrogen for shoot growth as well. Over seeding your lawn at this time takes advantage of the warm soil temperature for good germination. Using Winfield Grass Seed with PGS (various) adds additional benefits. All Winfield seed is treated with PGS growth hormones for quick germination and rapid establishment. Seed treated with PGS establishes 3-4 weeks quicker than untreated seed. Once the seed has emerged it will use the nutrients provided by Gravity G Starter to fill in the thin areas quickly.
In short, the foundation of building a thick lawn starts the week before Labor Day with over seeding your lawn with Winfield Seed and fertilizing with Gravity G Starter.
TIP NUMBER 4: Getting a Jump on Next Year
Controlling weeds is second only to fertilizing in the fall. Without a good stand of grass, it is near impossible to control weeds. The hardest thing to do is prevent anything from growing in a bare spot. If you fill your lawn with grass it is hard for the weeds to get in and it is easy for you to get the weeds out. Without grass in your lawn it is useless to control the weeds. The first step in growing grass is fall fertilization. The best time to fertilize in the fall is late October. The grass is making much more food than it is using at this time and is storing most of what it produces. It is also in late October when Dandelions and other winter annuals emerge. Applying Gravity G with Trimec is a good way to address the grass needs and kill the Dandelions and other winter annuals in one pass.
In short, fall fertilization is the first step in building a strong lawn. It is a good choice to fertilize with Gravity G with Trimec or another Gravity G fertilizer as long as you fertilize.