Spring is so late here in central Alberta! Snow is still covering our grass and gardens. A far different scene from last year’s early spring and snow melt. But when it comes to looking after your lawn regardless the conditions, you will be spring cleaning. (Though around here it will likely be closer to May 15 before we can get anything done.)
There are some things you can do to help your turf recover from winter hibernation and encourage the grass to green up and grow quickly. So take a moment to review your best practices, keeping in mind it is the soil microbiology that is your greatest asset and ally:
1. Survey winter damage to the turf – Look for evidence of snow mold, mice activities, and winter kill. A vigorous brushing with a fan rake is generally all that is needed to lift and clear away debris. Make a note of damage to the root zone. You will need to overseed and top dress these areas.
2. Aeration – The purpose of aeration is to physically create holes in the soil to give air and water access to the root zone. The cores can be left on the lawn for the soil biology to break down; or if you don’t like the look you can remove the core. As with power raking, wait three years before aerating seeded lawns, and at least two years for newly sodded lawns.
Timing of aeration is everything. The ground needs to be moist so irrigate a couple of days before the scheduled aeration treatment (not the day of) if it is required. Generally I can count on the soil being moist so I prefer to aerate in the spring though it can be done in the fall.
Other than mechanical aeration, there are strategies you can incorporate into your practices that encourage the soil biology to address compaction issues. We have had phenomenal success in reducing compaction, and eliminating the need for mechanical aeration with our SoilPerfect Rx VIE. Applying this soil amendment in spring and fall for a couple of years will do wonders with compaction issues.
If you do mechanically aerate, it’s a good time to evaluate the condition of the core. The core can tell you a lot about the condition of your lawn and how well the biology and your management practices are working. In an ideal world a 4” tine aeration will give you a 4” core depth to evaluate. Whatever the depth, measure it. Ask yourself, “from the bottom up how much of that core is soil”? Are roots growing in the soil? Can’t get a good core sample? This is an indicator of compaction and poor soil conditions for soil microorganisms. The core sample will also tell you about thatch conditions. Thatch is the spongy organic material found between the soil and the leaf.
More about thatch and what to look for in my next blog – coming right up!