Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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April 19, 2013

THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Timing is everything in applying weed, grub control

It’s coming soon to a theater near you — that grandiose outdoor theatre of Mother Nature’s spring.

Slowly but surely it’s trying to look like spring. Bulbs are starting to poke their green shoots through the ground. Some, with already-swelled blossom heads, will most likely be blossoming by this time next week. Crocuses have already shown their colors and daffodils, tulips and hyacinth can’t be far behind if temps cooperate. Some may already be blooming if in the right location.

I always relish the first colors of spring — not only all the beautiful emerging spring bulbs, but also the awakening of trees, shrubs, and yes, even grass.

The brown and bare tree branches start to glow with yellows, pinks and reds of swelling buds that will eventually turn to a green cloak of leaves (maple) or depending on the variety of tree it may be yellow/green (willow), pink (tri-color beech), red (crimson king maple), and on and on. Isn’t nature spectacular?

Yes, even grass changes your attitude about spring.

While traveling south to play golf in South Carolina in February it became a common topic of discussion from state to state because of the color of grass. From snow to spring green, each state produced more green the further south you went as the weather and temps improved. And that folks is exactly why we have “snow-birds” and “spring breaks.” Most all prefer warmer weather, or at least a break from the snow and ice.

OK, green grass and gardening enthusiasts, it’s time to get your house in order!

As I mentioned in an earlier column, pre-emergence crabgrass prevention should already be down (providing crabgrass has been a problem in your lawn) and if you’re waiting until the last minute (like your taxes) you may be too late because May 1 is usually the latest to ensure prevention or germination of this pesky weed. If this is the case you’ll have to rely on crabgrass killer at a later date when it is already up and spreading. This makes it much more difficult, however, not impossible to control.

Once ground temps reach 60 to 62 degrees, grass roots start to grow and develop. This normally occurs after the first or second week of May, so that would be a good time to get that first application of fertilizer down.

This first application should not contain any weed killer — just straight lawn fertilizer (slow-release is best) — an iron inclusion is acceptable for a quicker “green-up.” If weeds start to develop in June or July then a fertilizer with weed preventative would be in order. If weeds aren’t a problem then skip the weed-control inclusion and apply the same regular lawn fertilizer.

In other words, never put control chemicals on the lawn unless there is a problem — less is better.

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