SPRING

 

SPRING

 

 
 
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The early spring lawn application consists of a 40% slow release fertilizer to encourage early spring color and a pre-emergent crabgrass control to reduce annual grassy and broadleaf weeds.  Typically weeds are growing too slowly for good weed control until after April 20 to 25 at which time we start adding broadleaf weed control to our program.  Any customer with objectionable weeds should call for a service call at no additional charge.

MOWING: If you have a sunny lawn that was clipped shorter the last time in fall power raking will likely be unnecessary and there shouldn't be much spring yard work to do. Shady lawns will likely have late dropped or blown-in leaves to clean up. Wet tree leaves will damage the grass so it is best to remove any leaves as soon as the lawn is dry enough for yard work. Set your mower at a 3½" cutting height until year end (4” with riders) and check the blade for sharpness. Taller mowing (4”) is recommended if the lawn is rough or watering will be less than perfect. Tall mowing promotes deeper roots which help the grass resist drought, insects, diseases, shade damage, tree competition, traffic and weeds. If the lawn was shaggy over the winter, clip it at around 2½" the first time only, to get rid of the brown grass. Several short mowings shortens roots and it takes the plant about 60 days to recover. DO NOT CONTINUE TO MOW SHORT.

RAKING: Light raking to remove trash will not harm this application; however, power raking and extremely heavy hand raking can damage the crabgrass barrier that was applied.

 
 Vole damage.

Vole damage.

VOLE DAMAGE

Voles (field mice) can do significant damage to lawns, especially in late fall or winter. They are grass eaters and can kill plants by chewing them off at or below the ground level. The most serious damage occurs during the winter when they hide under snow drifts where they are protected from the cold and predators.

Voles can be controlled by setting mouse snap traps baited with peanut butter or by using poison mouse bait. Pellet type baits degrade or get moldy quickly under humid conditions. The best bait for outdoor use is the weather resistant blue or green waxy bait blocks. Bait in their trails is effective but not legal. To be legal, the label on the bait will tell you to place it in bait boxes to minimize exposure to none target animals and kids. Farm supply or hardware stores usually have a selection of both boxes and bait.

Late October and early November are important times to watch for trails and nests as the population is highest in fall and they are moving from areas of dry vegetation to home lawns which are still green. If you are near vacant lots, empty fields, stone walls, lawn sheds, cattails, dense shrubbery, etc. you are likely to have vole damage as these offer ideal cover.

Areas of vole damage that do not show signs of life by the 15th or 20th of April are dead and will need to be re-seeded or re-sodded. Generally the soil is not warm enough for the seed to survive until late April or early May and you will be able to see what is alive by that time. Damaged areas should have loose material raked off so that what is left of the plants is exposed to sun light. Green stubs will recover slowly and fill back in depending on how much is left. Areas that do not show new growth can be seeded by scratching them up and using a Patchmaster type product or quality bluegrass/ryegrass seed mix. It is generally best to put in a thin layer of topsoil first as the seed must by mixed with the top ¼ to ½ inch of soil or it will dry out quickly. Water daily depending on weather conditions.

 
 Snow mold (Maine.gov photo)

Snow mold (Maine.gov photo)

SNOW MOLD

Snow mold disease is a fungus that shows up in spring as the snow is melting. It is usually found under snow drifts that hang around longer than most of the snow keeping that area wet. The best way to prevent snow mold from forming is to go out with a shovel as the snow melts and break up any remaining drifts or snow piles so that they can melt more quickly. Snow mold that has already formed is best treated by using a rake to fluff up the grass to allow it to dry out which will in turn kill out the fungus.