Healthy lawns also play an important role in home sales because they have a significant impact on “curb appeal.” Realtors report that homes with beautiful lawns and landscaping can increase property values by 15 to 20 percent.
If your grass could talk, it would offer the following care tips this month:
- Activate the sprinkler system, check for leaks and get your repairs done. Between now and April 30, only water when the lawn needs it. To test the soil moisture, stick a screwdriver into the turf. If it is damp four inches down, your lawn does not need water. Grass that grows in sandy soil must be watered more often than the same grass growing in clay or loam soils.
- Set controllers to water in the early morning (before 6 a.m.) when temperatures are cool and winds are calm. Don’t just “set it and forget it;” test the soil and turn the system off if the soil moisture levels are good. Water grass just twice a week if needed and avoid over-watering. Water five minutes if using spray-head sprinklers when temperatures start rising and the soil dries out. For rotor sprinklers, water 10 minutes.
- Core aerate to improve grass root health. The holes created by aeration relieve soil compaction and allow air and water to reach the root zone.
- Fertilize bluegrass using one-half to one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet (this can be reduced by one-quarter to one-third when grass clippings are mulched with a mulching mower and left on top of the lawn). The nitrogen application may not be needed if you fertilized late last fall (September to November). Always be sure to read the label on the fertilizer and follow all application instructions.
- Mow grass when it reaches about three to four inches in height and try to keep the grass at the same height all year. Cutting the grass too short or letting it get several inches too long is not only unsightly, it stresses the grass.
- Get turf weeds under control early so their seeds don’t keep growing a new crop of weeds. Use a broadleaf turf weed treatment that kills the weeds but doesn’t harm the grass. If you dig weeds out by hand, be sure to pull out the roots so weeds don’t sprout up again.