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  Your Lawn is Calling
  March 11th, 2006

Answer with a Bit of TLC

Now is the time to feed all types of established lawns and to plant new ones from seed. You can also plant lawns from sod this month.

Mow, feed, and water all lawns. Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, and zoysia, are waking up from winter dormancy. As soon as they start growing begin mowing weekly with a reel mower to the correct height for each. Mow common Bermuda to 1 to 1 1/2 inches, hybrid Bermuda to 1/2 or 3/4 inch, St Augustine to between 3/4 and 1 1/4 inches, and zoysia to 3/4 to 1 inch height. Cool-season grasses, such as fescue, ryegrass, and bluegrass, are still growing fast; mow them weekly with a rotary mower to 1 1/2 inches in height. Feed all established lawns now with a complete lawn fertilizer- containing phosphorus and potassium as well as nitrogen- to get warm-season grasses off to a good start and keep cool-season grasses going strong so they will endure the summer heat to come. A healthy well-fed lawn is better able to withstand pests and diseases and choke out weeds.

While nitrogen gives your lawn top growth and a healthy green color you can see, phosphorus and potassium feed the roots and growth systems of the plant that are unseen but just as important. Phosphorus and potassium are longer lasting in soil than nitrogen, so smaller amounts are needed. Feed warm-season grasses once a month for the rest of the growing season.

Apply fertilizer when the ground is damp and grass blades dry, and follow up by watering deeply. Otherwise you risk burning your lawn. If you’re willing to pay the price, coated slow-release fertilizer works great at this time of year.

Plant new lawns. Regardless of the type of grass and method of planting you choose be sure to prepare the site thoroughly. If you’re planting an invasive grass, such as Bermuda or an invasive variety of zoysia, first install edging to keep it from creeping into borders.

For all lawns, rototill deeply, add plenty of soil amendment, and level and lightly roll the ground. Sprinkle seeds evenly and cover them with mulch. Either roll stolons with a cleated roller to press them into the soil or partially cover them with good quality compost. Keep your freshly planted lawn damp until established. Sprinkle it twice or three time daily, but avoid watering late in the day.

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