Home lawn care

      The following is from Master Gardener Claire Smith: 

 Remember a few years ago when the TV helicopter pilot upon seeing a tornado shouted, “I see it!  I see it!”?  That’s how I felt today when I finally saw my lawn.  While all of the snow did provide a great deal of insulation and protection for our plants, I’m so glad it has finally melted.  Robins are searching for worms and squirrels are scavenging for any unburied nuts. And, on St. Patrick’s Day, I did see a bit-o-the-green peeking through.

     Oh! How I want to get to work on the lawn right now.  My goal this year is a strong turfgrass stand.  An ISU bulletin titled Home Lawn Care:  Weed Control indicates that weeds in a lawn are often a sign of a thin turfgrass stand.  (FYI, Turfgrass is defined as a spreading or stoloniferous [a horizontal branch from the base of a plant that produces new plants from buds at its tip, called a runner] grass as opposed to a tufted grass.)  Maintaining a dense turfgrass stand prevents weed infestations so: 

  • Choose the correct species of turfgrass. Kentucky bluegrass grows best in full sun.  A mixture containing fine fescues is suitable for shady areas.
  • Routine mowing will eliminate weeds with an upright growth habit.
  • Mow at a 3-3 ½” height
  • Inadequate or too frequent irrigation damages turfgrass
  • Identify weeds to determine method of removal.  A visit with your weed sample in hand to your Extension Office (in Marion at 3279 7th Ave. Ste 140, in the professional building in the strip mall next to the farm store) will provide not only an identification of the plant, but a suggested eradication plan as well.

          Weeds can be mechanically removed by pulling or digging. Chemical weed control may be your choice using an application of pre and/or postemergence herbicides.  Most herbicides selectively kill certain weeds.  A second application 7-10 days later may be necessary.  Apply preemergence herbicides in Southern Iowa around April 10th and around May 15th in the North.  A guide for crabgrass control is application of the chemical by the time the forsythia blossoms begin to drop or when the redbud trees are in full bloom. Optimum control of broadleaf weeds occurs when postemergence products are applied during the plants’ early bloom stage.  2-4-D and DSMA will control certain weeds without injuring the turf grass. Early spring applications are safer as some products vaporize and drift under high temperatures and humidity potentially damaging flowers and shrubs.       Apply when air is calm and rain is not expected for 24 hours.Use proper caution when mixing or handling any pesticide.  Most products available consist of a prepackaged mixture of two to three chemicals.  I’m off to pick up branches that are no longer frozen to the ground and watch the critters that are enjoying the advent of nicer weather as much as I am.  Happy Spring!! 

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