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« Easter Holiday Lawn Care | Main | The first signs of Spring - hopefully... »

Spring Lawn Treatments - is it too early?

ScottsSpring is traditionally the time of year when the majority of lawn owners will apply a 3 in one lawn product to their lawn.

More often than not, this spring treatment is the ONLY nutritional application that will be made to the lawn throughout the year.

There should be a further 3 treatments but include a couple of fertiliser only applications! Nitrogen encourages colour, vegetative growth and some density of the grass sward.

Inorganic mineral Nitrogen sources based around Ammonium Nitrate with 21% Nitrogen will provide a rapid greening up within days and a lot of growth that is short lived with any nutritional benefit being mown off over the coming weeks. Some of the more controlled release fertilisers found in Scotts Evergreen Lawn Products use soil temperature and moisture to control the release of Nitrogen over a 2 - 3 month period thus without the initial rush of growth.

Always 'feed before you weed' once the lawn has been mown a couple of times in the spring. This old Groundsman's saying was to ensure that you had actively promoted some grass growth just ahead of applying a selective weed killer which can sometimes 'shock' winterised lawns.

There is some truth in the notion that you are actively promoting the weeds to grow too but this enhances the intake of the selective weed killer which is after all only a growth hormone - a growth hormone that is responsible for secondary thickening of the cambium cells in the weeds which is why the flower stalks and stems of the weed plant go into 'super growth' before they literally outgrow themselves and die some 4 weeks later. Grasses do not have cambium cells so are not affected by the selective weed killer if applied at the correct label rate.

Applying a hormonal selective weed killer is only effective if the air temperature is above 8 to 10 degrees centigrade for a consistent period and the weeds have commenced their active growth cycle. A cold spring will delay any selective weed killing and cold days with a wind chill will slow chemical uptake further as the plants metabolism reduces.

Whilst browsing the lawn treatment company GreenThumb's website,who claim to be 'Britain's Lawn Experts' we came across a statement that they can apply what they claim is their 'low-temperature activated lawn selective weed killer'. Having spent over 26 years in the professional turf industry and sold turf care products for over 21 years, I have never heard of such a product being used on golf courses and sports stadia.

Their claim is to substantiate their service of applying lawn products when the weather is cold and unsuitable, probably when clients have asked 'is it too early to apply a selective weed killer and fertiliser to my lawns'. The fertiliser element is fine, their preferred sulphur coated fertiliser will sit there until the temperatures increase and grass growth speeds up. Having said this, Greenthumb are not singled out as many of the other many lawn treatment companies will spray selective weed killer when there is frost on the ground.

Lawn Care is after all a science - the science and practice of turf culture. The basic science of lawn care and annual calendar of maintenance practices has not changed throughout the centries. The machinery, automation and products and turf grass species has changed to keep in line with the increased use of the natural surface that a lawn or sports pitch demands.

It is important that lawn owners have the opportunity to receive unbiased but correct technical advice which is why we can clearly state that the timing of treatments should always be in harmony with prevailing weather patterns and sympathetic with the natural growth cycle of the weeds and grass plants that make up the lawn area. It is so important to get the best out of any lawn care product, especially pesticides that readily receive bad Press.

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