Editors note: “A Better Life” is a weekly column by the USU Extension – Tooele Office that focuses on a variety of topics intended to enhance quality of life.
What a winter! As of March 18, Tooele’s snowpack total was 143 percent. What a great summer to practice water conservation with our turf and in our gardens.
We begin this training process in the spring. It is important to work with nature and utilize rainy days to help resist the temptation to turn the sprinkler system on too early. Let your turf dry out a bit and recover from a long winter of being covered in snow.
Turfgrass adds beauty to most landscapes, helps cool the environment, and gives people a place to play.
Maintaining a lawn properly helps keep it beautiful for years to come and reduces the likelihood of problems. A few simple practices can make lawn care easier and more satisfying. A short list of maintenance definitions is followed by a season long growing schedule.
• Watering: Water deeper and less frequently. The water needs to penetrate six to eight inches deep. Allow the turf and soil to dry between watering.
• Fertilization: Apply a lawn fertilizer that is high in nitrogen (21-0-0, 21-3-6, 20-2-4, 34-0-0, etc.) at a rate of one-half pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. This equals to about 5 pounds of 21-0-0 or an equivalent fertilizer, or 3 pounds of 34-0-0 or an equivalent fertilizer/1,000 square feet.
• Aeration: Use a core aerator. Remove a minimum of a 4-inch plug and leave the plugs on the lawn to disintegrate. Aeration improves the penetration of water, herbicide and fertilizer and helps reduce compaction and thatch.
• Pre-emergent Herbicide: Controls annual weeds (crabgrass, spurge, foxtail and oxalis). These weeds occur frequently along sidewalks and driveways but can be throughout the yard.
• Broadleaf Herbicide: Control perennial broadleaf weeds (dandelions, morning glory, knotweed, chickweed, black medic, etc.).
The following schedule trains a Kentucky bluegrass, fescue type turf:
• April: Apply pre-emergent to any trouble spots to control annual weeds, not the entire lawn unless needed. Aerate with a core aerator, power raking is strongly discouraged and does not control thatch. Apply 1 to 1 ½ inches of water/week. Rainstorms count so hopefully nature will help with this. Check your sprinkler heads for accurate coverage and function. Cut lawn to 2 to 2 ½ inches high.
• May: Apply broadleaf herbicide to control perennial weeks. Apply a high nitrogen fertilizer. A slow release product is best.
• June: Re-apply a pre-emergent to control annual weeds.
• July: Apply 2 to 2 ½ inches of water per week and increase mower height to cut the lawn to a length of 2 ½ to 3 inches.
• August: Take the month off except for mowing
• September: Apply 1 to 1 ½ inches of water per week. Cut the lawn to a length of 2 to 2 ½ inches tall. Aerate and over-seed to thicken lawn if needed. Apply a high nitrogen fertilizer (slow release products are best). This is the most important application of the year. Apply a broadleaf herbicide to control perennial weeds.
• October: Lower mower height to cut the lawn to a length of 1 ½ to 2 inches tall. Winterize the sprinkler system by draining the lines and blowing out the system, one station at a time.
• November: Apply 1 pound of nitrogen/1,000 square feet using ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) or urea (46-0-0) before rain or snow, if possible.
A healthy lawn will be a beautiful lawn and will be able to withstand the stresses of use and cyclical drought. Call USU Extension if you have existing turf troubles.
For more information about spring gardening, call the USU Extension – Tooele County office at 435-277-2407. The office is located inside the Tooele County Health Department Building, 151 N. Main, Tooele.