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Upper Midwest Gardening: Growing Terrific Turf

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Get easy tips for lawn care and pest prevention so your grass will flourish.

beetle and leaf
purple flowers

This time of year I'm always torn between repairing/reseeding the lawn or preventing crabgrass. I know I have to pick one because I can't do both, knowing crabgrass preventers will kill sprouting grass seed too. And here's the deal with crabgrass: If you had it last year, you WILL get it again this year unless you control it.

Timing is everything. You have to apply preventers two weeks before the crabgrass seed germinates. Seriously? How do you know when that is? I simply watch the lilacs. When they're blooming, around mid-May, I get to work! And since I am a lazy gardener, I use a lawn fertilizer that has crabgrass preventer mixed right in. I like organics so I use products containing corn gluten. I've used it a couple of years now, and it's finally paying off.

I've seen some ugly things in my yard, but nothing like grubs. They dine on grass roots and, if left alone, they turn into Japanese beetles. These voracious buggers can strip a potato plant clean. So by going after the grubs in the spring, I reduce the beetle population in the summer. I like to use a natural bacterium called "milky spore." It kills the grubs naturally and inoculates the soil with spores to curb future populations.

Watering Lawn
Let it rain! But when it doesn't, it's up to you to give your grass a drink - but don't drown it! If you have a sprinkler system set to water every morning, you're probably overdoing it! Lawns react to about 1 inch of water a week and actually prefer a good, long drink rather than short shots. Watering in the morning is best. Sandy soils need more water more often. Clay soils, less water less often.

Here are some things to think about this spring:

  • Pansies are perfect flowers of the frost. Enjoy them before it gets too hot.
  • GRASSCYCLE! Leave the clippings on the lawn. They'll decompose and WON'T enhance thatch.
  • Control slugs early - they lay dozens of eggs at a time - many times during the season!
  • Don't cut down bulb foliage until it yellows. Leaves are food factories for next year's blooms.

Apply fresh mulch around trees, perennials and shrubs for weed control.

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