Time To Start The Lawn Work In Southwest Oklahoma
It's "THAT" time once again that our collective lawns are about to stir from their winter dormancy and start the process of spring renewal. A little extra effort right now while the weather is cool will save you tons of hot days sweating over it later this summer. Take a few pro-tips.
As I was driving home from a little Spring Break vacation earlier this week, I couldn't help but notice green sprigs of bermudagrass were starting to pop up in the medians down the highway. If they're popping already, it's only a matter of time before our yards do the same.
If you already have weeds popping up in your yard, it's time to spray. I know the normal instinct is to wait until all of your weeds have popped, but it may be too late for a good lawn if you risk letting the weeds take over. Hit them now with a quality selective herbicide like 2,4-D and keep hitting them as they pop up out of the ground.
Pro-Tip: Mix your own herbicides in your own pump sprayer. It's cheaper to buy chemicals this way and spot spraying will keep you from wasting it.
Since your tan and crispy bermuda from last year won't be turning green again, most people scalp their lawns to get rid of last years remnants. That's totally encouraged, but know this will allow more weeds the perfect conditions to grow... Plenty of sunshine, warm soil conditions, no grass to compete with for nutrients during these early spring season rains. You can pick em or continue to spray them.
Pro-Tip: Identify your weeds before you decide what to do with them. You don't want to waste time trying to pick a rhizome weed, and spraying goat heads won't prevent the new seeds from germinating.
The most common weed that you'll find in the average Lawton yard isn't what everyone assumes is crabgrass, it's actually dallis grass. A wild grassy weed that's relative to bermudagrass, so you can't spray it without also killing your bermuda... However, your bermuda will grow back, the dallis grass won't. Go ahead and spray it with a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate/RoundUp.
Pro-Tip: To encourage your bermudagrass to quickly grow back, cut it very short and give it plenty of water. You'll be amazed how fast it can cover a dead spot.
While you're establishing a good lawn, go ahead and bag all of your clippings. You don't want to mulch a bunch of weed seeds back into your lawn... but when you finally reach that green lawn status of a thick weed-free turf, start mulching and take advantage of all that free fertilizer. If your mower has trouble mulching, sharpen your blade. It's super easy and can be done with a nail and a file.
Pro-Tip: New store-bought blades aren't sharp, but they'll quickly become sharp after a use or two. Before you mow each week, take the blade off, give it a few licks with a file to keep that sharp edge on it that way you won't have to pay someone else to do it for you. 5 minutes of effort will save you cash money all season.
In our sandy and loamy SWOK soils, nutrients don't stick around long. That's why we fertilize. While you get almost instant results out of the expensive salt-based fertilizers and turf builders, an organic fertilizer will feed your lawn for weeks and weeks without the risk of chemically burning it. The big "brand name" in this category is Milorganite, but everyone makes an equally effective cheaper copy. It's still good to get some quick-hitting phosphorous and potassium in before a good rain, but the lasting organic nitrogen will pay dividends.
Pro-Tip: Grab a bag of pre-emergent for your lawn now and follow up with another right before or after Memorial Day. The best way to stay weed-free is to prevent them from growing in the first place.
While we usually get enough rain to suffice sustainable growth this time of year, it doesn't hurt to water if you don't mind paying the city for it. You want to average about an inch of water per week over the entire lawn. Too little and you won't see maximum potential, too much and it'll yellow and drown the lawn. Since it's so hard to accurately predict rain this time of year, let mother nature water it for you.
Pro-Tip: Even if you have an installed sprinkler system, don't water your grass every day. Sure, it'll stay perked up all week, but that frequent watering prevents roots from growing. Instead, water deep and infrequent twice each week. This will cause your roots to grow deep as the water soaks in deep. If you don't know how long it takes to put a half-inch of water down, put a can in the yard and measure how long it takes to catch that half-inch.
I admit I refuse to water my lawn. I look forward to the hot and dry summer conditions that cause my beautiful lawn to go summer dormant. It keeps its green color but stops growing so I don't have to be out in the heat mowing it. I aim for weed-free since weeds flourish in the dry heat, and who wants to waste their time mowing weeds? It's like getting a vacation in the time of year you want to be in the air conditioning anyway.
It may seem like a lot of work up front while your yard is just getting reestablished, but believe me, it's better to put in this effort while temps are in the 70s rather than waiting until it's over 100. Just do the basics... Mow, spray, fertilize, water. Easy peasy.
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