Many people think spring is the time for lawn care. Actually, there is not much you need to do for your lawn in spring other than cut it once it starts to green up and grow. Lawn fertilizer should be applied in the fall, when plants are putting their energy into growing healthy root systems. Fertilizer applied in the spring, promotes top growth, which you just have to cut. It also promotes lawn weeds. In the spring, lawns are battling the winter annual weeds that persist, like chickweed and will soon be battling the summer annuals, like crabgrass; not to mention the broadleaf perennial weeds, like dandelion. Fertilizing in the spring, helps those weeds compete with the desired grass in your lawn. If you want your lawn to green up quickly in the spring, it is OK to add about ½ lb of nitrogen per 1000 square feet. That is equivalent to applying 25 pounds of a 21-3-3 (21% N) fertilizer to a 10,000 square foot lawn.
If you don’t want to worry about when to fertilize and how much fertilizer to use, consider hiring a Livable Lawns Certified lawn care company this spring. Visit the Livable Lawns website to learn more about caring for a healthy lawn and to find a certified business near you – http://www.delawarelivablelawns.org/index.php.
The Livable Lawns program can also help you with the other task you might be contemplating as spring gets nearer—new planting. Consider planting native species. Native plants have a special relationship with native insects. Most insects are specialists and feed on only one or two species of plants with which they co-evolved. If we want pollination services and lots of other ecosystem services provided by a biodiverse ecosystem, we need to include native plants in our home landscapes. That is certainly not a hardship since many native plants have great flowers, fruit, fall color and all the ornamental characteristics we desire in our gardens. Lots of people have been feeding the birds this winter and look forward to the return of more birds as the weather warms. Did you know that while adult birds can eat seeds, baby birds can only eat insects? Without our native insects we can kiss our native birds goodbye.
If you hire a certified Livable Lawns lawn care company you can receive a $50 gift certificate to purchase native plants at participating nurseries and garden centers. If you want to apply fertilizer to your lawn yourself, visit the Livable Lawns website. Read through the 8 requirements and sign on the dotted line. Once your application is received, you will get a free soil test kit and your reporting sheet. Fill out the sheet as you fertilize throughout the fall and once you turn it in, you’ll receive a free $50 gift certificate for purchasing native plants next fall.