MARCH 2019 LAWN DEPOT NEWSLETTER
Spring is fast approaching and it’s time once again to prepare for this year’s growing season. Before writing each of my NEWSLETTERS, I always compare the previous year’s weather, growing conditions, and any other factors that came into play during this time. I’m writing this letter on February 27th, and it’s surprising to me how similar conditions were at this time last year; several moderate snow events, but none really more than 3-4”, significant fluctuations in daily highs and lows, meaning never much of a “deep” frost, and LOTS of wind. By the end of February, we had lawns beginning to green up; early-blooming bulbs peeking through the mulch, and LOTS of twigs and branches strewn about our yards and beds. It’s almost the same this year. Just a typical winter in beautiful Bucks County, PA.
I’m really hoping that from now on into the growing season of 2019, we get away from last year’s conditions. I’m ready for a more “typical” year weather-wise, with a mild, wet spring, a warm, dry-ish summer, and a long, mild, wet fall. Last year’s record rainfall (over 20” more than normal, with no breaks from March through December) caused us many problems to deal with in our yards. Let’s hope we get back to normal weather this year.
The Lawn Depot, both in our Lawn & Garden Center (46th year) and Turf Management division (40th year) are off and running with the spring season. The store is fully stocked with all the lawn and gardening products and tools you’ll need for this year’s yard work. And the Turf Management Service is already off and running with early spring applications. We encourage any of you who are interested in the highest quality lawn services available to call us at 215-348-5553 or visit our website at www.lawndepotinc.com and request an estimate for lawn services for this year. We’ll be out within several days to measure and evaluate your lawn, and email you a quote. For those of you who have received an estimate and have not yet activated services, whether single applications (liming, weed control, core aeration, seeding, etc.) or full year’s programs, give us a call to activate at 215-348-5553. We’d love to make your lawn the envy of your neighborhood.
March is a very important month for lawn and yard work, even though the growing season won’t begin in earnest for another 5-6 weeks. Yards must be cleaned up from all the twigs and debris that have accumulated in beds, under shrubs, and all over lawns. Beds should be thoroughly scarified to loosen last year’s mulch layer and weeded prior to laying this spring’s mulch. Power equipment must be serviced and blades sharpened before they’re needed. Lawns should be readied for the spring growing season by raking up any leaves that have blown in and mowing if it is long and shaggy. With Daylight Savings Time upon us (March 10th), we’ll have lengthening hours of daylight and warmer temperatures that will make it more pleasant to work outside. Let’s get a running start on Mother Nature this spring. We’ll typically have a disruptive snowstorm or two this month, but hopefully, with the warming earth and longer days, their effects won’t last long and we’ll be able to get right back to our outdoor activities.
The Lawn Depot Garden Center is operating on our spring schedule now: Monday through Friday 8-6, Saturday 8-5, and Sunday 9-3. Our friendly and talented staff members are looking forward to seeing you all again, and answering all of your lawn and gardening questions. Plants will be coming out of our hoop houses and coming in from our growers as soon as the weather is steadily warmer at night. Although it’s a bit early for buying and planting annuals, perennials and shrubs, we’d love to chat with you about your plans for them when they’re actively growing and the soil is warm enough for planting. Come on in and get yourselves ready for the spring of 2019. We’ll be looking for you.
LAWNS IN MARCH
4 Step Fertilizer Program – It’s time once again for our specially priced 4 step fertilizer program. This program offers you a savings of 10% over purchasing the bags individually through the year. There are 2 programs covering 10,000 sq.ft and 2 programs covering 5,000 sq. ft. The first program offering includes 4 fertilizers, which will cover your lawn’s fertilizer needs for the year. The second program offering includes 3 fertilizers and 1 combination fertilizer with grub control. All bags are stickered with the application time, so you know when they should be applied.
Clean Up and Pre-Season Mowing – Before spring growth begins in earnest, if your lawns look shaggy, matted down, and/or off color (relative to other lawns in your neighborhood), you would do well to rake the lawn lightly to get the grass upright and remove twigs and debris, lower your mower deck 1 notch, and mow the entire lawn, preferably with bagger attached to your mower. Do this before the lawn begins to grow. The lawn will look better and will come back to life faster in late March/early April.
Dimension Pre-Emergent for Annual Pest Grasses – Last year’s wet weather promoted the rapid growth of poa annua/annual bluegrass and Japanese stiltgrass. These annual pests germinate earlier than crabgrass and can be just as devastating to turfgrasses. Elimination of these grasses is not easy, but reduction and/or management is possible.
Poa Annua A.K.A. annual bluegrass, is a very common weed on golf courses and home lawns. It’s a lighter green than turf grasses, and the plants form seed heads very readily on short stems, thus giving the appearance of whitish spots in otherwise deep green lawns. Normal pre-emergent crabgrass control practices won’t work because seeds begin to germinate well before crabgrass. Ignoring this weed will lead to ever increasing-sized patches of it, and seeds can be transported from one area to another by foot or machine.
Japanese Stiltgrass is a “weak-rooted and sprawling annual grass” that mostly grows along heavily treed lawn edges and other shady areas prone to damp conditions. In mown areas it is commonly mistaken for crabgrass, and like annual bluegrass, begins germinating in March or early April. Therefore it is not controlled by normal crabgrass control practices.
If you have either of these pests or think you may have experienced either or both of these grassy weeds, we have a solution that will reduce the problem. First, we’d recommend that you call or come into the Lawn Depot and discuss your situation. We’ve got pictures that will help you identify whether or not one of these is your culprit. Second, we suggest you apply DIMENSION as early as possible to catch the early germinating pests. DIMENSION in a normal crabgrass control application lasts for about 4 months. Because you’d be applying your DIMENSION earlier than we normally recommend, you can get the extended pre-emergent control by either applying your DIMENSION at a heavier rate, or by making a split-rate application, March and May. We do offer a DIMENSION product without fertilizer as well. So, if you’d like to do the split application, you can use the non-nitrogen product in March and the DIMENSION/fertilizer product anytime in May.
Spring Fertilizer with DIMENSION Pre-Emergent Crabgrass Control – Unless you are trying to control poa annua/annual bluegrass or Japanese stiltgrass (see above), March is too early for pre-emergent crabgrass control for homeowners in southeastern PA. The best time for this application is mid-April, even with long-lasting DIMENSION. If you are only going to apply fertilizer/crabgrass control once this spring, wait until April to make your application. Crabgrass is an annual pest that begins to germinate in lawns when soil temperatures elevate to 55-57 degrees F. In SE PA, this won’t happen until mid-April at the earliest. If you apply your control too early you’ll risk losing control in late-June/early-July. Crabgrass seeds continue germinating through mid-July most summers.
Early Crabgrass Treatment by Lawn Depot Turf Management – Our Turf Management division utilizes a product in March and Early April that is soil-temperature sensitive, meaning that it only activates when soil temperature elevates to a specific temperature. This product is CAVALCADE and is only used until early April, when our guys switch over to DIMENSION. CAVALCADE is only available to turf professionals.
Early Season Broadleaf Weed Control with Liquid TRIMEC – Perennial weeds can ONLY be controlled while they’re actively growing. Dandelions, clover, plantains, and many of our most hated spring weeds won’t be actively growing until early-mid April. Do not try to get them now, before they bloom; it won’t work no matter what some name brand ads say. The weeds in our lawns that are actively growing now include onion grass, wild violets, ground ivy, and some chickweeds. These weeds will stand out at this time because they will be greener or taller than the lawn. They should be spot sprayed as they begin to grow; some should be re-sprayed in 10-14 days if the first treatment didn’t completely get them. Most of these cool weather weeds will cease growing for the year once the ground warms up and other plants start growing.
Early Spring Seeding – We HATE spring seeding. There, I’ve said it. If you seed in the spring, you can’t apply crabgrass or any broadleaf weed control, you won’t get complete germination until mid-June or beyond, and your lawn will probably suffer significant summer thinning of the young seedlings because roots establish slowly before summer heat sets in. So, if you seed in the spring, you’ll probably have lots of crabgrass, lots of broadleaf weeds, not very good coverage of the desirable grass, and you’ll have to overseed in the fall anyway.
Having said all that, if you have brand new areas or lawns that must be seeded due to new construction, damage repair, heavy shade that calls for seeding every spring, or any other reason that can’t wait until the fall, we strongly recommend that you seed with our EVERGREEN blend of 100% hybrid perennial ryegrasses for most situations. This is the fastest-germinating mix we sell, is a fine-textured grass that blends in with all permanent grass seeds, and has the best chance of surviving the summer heat because it roots quickly. And we recommend that you still overseed in the fall.
Liming and/or Core Aerating in the Spring – We strongly recommend that BOTH of these soil conditioning activities be performed with our acidic, heavy soils every year. Aerating clayey or heavy soil opens the soil up to allow moisture to penetrate deeper into root zones, thus giving us deeper, denser root systems. Liming acidic soils regularly keeps soil pH closer to neutral and thereby enhances the effect of fertilization by enabling the main fertilizer nutrients (N, P, K) to be utilized by grass plants. Many of you who agree with our recommendations but prefer not to do the work yourselves for whatever reason, are encouraged to give us a call and let us give you a quote on having the jobs done by our Turf management professionals.
LANDSCAPING IN THE EARLY SPRING
Garden Cleanup and Spring Mulching – Beds and landscaped areas are in sore need of cleaning up. Leaves, newspapers, and other debris have blown under shrubs, weeds and grasses have popped up everywhere, last year’s mulch is crusty and thin, and edges of all the beds have become ragged and sloppy looking. Perennials still hanging onto least year’s dead stems need to be pruned back to the ground before new growth begins next month. Some shrubs need pruning or shaping before they come to life. Be sure though that you aren’t pruning those that are spring bloomers (Azaleas, Rhododendron, Forsythia, etc.) or you risk cutting the blooms off.
Also all mulched areas need to be re-mulched for the spring growing season. Be sure to apply garden pre-emergent (Treflan or Garden Weed Preventer) with your new mulch, to keep weeds at bay. The store is fully stocked with bulk and bagged mulches. March is the best time of the year for all of these cleanup and prep jobs, so make the time and get to work. It’s a huge, ugly job that is best spread out and tackled early. You’ll be glad you did.
Protecting Shrubs, Bulbs, Small Trees from Deer and Other Pests – Crocuses, tulips and other spring-blooming bulbs are breaking out of the mulch; perennials, evergreens and deciduous shrubs are going to be sprouting new growth shortly. Deer, mice, voles and other varmints, who have been hard-pressed for food all winter are hungry, so now is the time to make every effort to keep them from ruining many of our favorite plants. Remember, one attack overnight, can decimate plants and shrubs that we’ve worked hard to establish and maintain. There are lots of products at The Lawn Depot, both in granular, liquid concentrate and ready to use form that can help us keep these pests at bay, but they must be applied regularly because they are of varying periods of effectiveness, and the protection must be constant. Consistency in application is key. Come in to the store and discuss the options offered and the pests you’re trying to control. And remember, these products are all deterrents, not pesticides; they offer smells and/or tastes that the target pests find objectionable.
Bird Food, Feeders, etc. – Come in and check out our complete line of products to attract all kinds of birds (including hummingbirds) and repel squirrels. We have feeders, poles, baffles, houses, and a wide variety of bird food mixes. Come on in and look at the line of excellent birding products we offer. Many birds return to the same yards or territories every year. If you want to attract certain birds to your yard, putting up a house and/or feeder for them would entice them to stay for the season. We also carry bat houses for those of you who would like a natural way to combat mosquitos. Beneficial insect houses are all the rage now and we have numerous sizes, shapes and colors to choose from. So, stop in and check them out!