March 11, 2019
So, as we move into spring, this year, March is currently looking very different to 2018. In 2018, March was mostly white!
Each year we have to approach how we care for our lawns in a way that suits how the weather is behaving, it is no good to have a wall chart with recommendations that we follow “whatever” the weather is doing.
During March, we are likely to see more frosty mornings and we should remember that this means the leaves of the plants are frozen so we should not be walking all over it or cutting it. If the forecast is frosty, leaving the cutting for a few days.
At this time of year, we should be cutting the grass only if it needs it and at towards the highest setting we have on our mower. Cutting it short will not stimulate it to grow and thicken at this point, it is much more likely to stress the plant and prevent it from growing normally, and short cutting will also aid the ingress of moss. Just by tidying it up and taking the tops off will stimulate lateral growth at this stage as the grass tries to produce fleshy green leaves that will aid photosynthesis which is the process where the plant utilises sunlight and turns it into energy.
One of the most important things is to make sure that the blades are sharp, otherwise, it is like thrashing the leaves with a blunt stick which causes significant leaf damage.
As we leave winter behind, the plants will be in need of nutrition, they have been in a semi dormant state for several months and the roots have not been very active. The main nutrients that we need to provide to help growth are Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorous and to some extent Magnesium. The two most important ones at this point will be Nitrogen and Potassium but do not put too much on early as both of these can easily be leached (washed) from the soil in heavy rain and the plants will not be able to use large amounts at this point.
Weed control in March is an easy subject, “Forget it”, the temperatures are much too low for the herbicides to work and all you will do is stunt the weeds, making them harder to control when conditions are better.
Many lawns have suffered from the heatwave of 2018 and now have large dead patches. These can be overseeded but need to be done soon otherwise the weather may warm up rapidly and become too dry for the seed to establish. In many cases, these patches have been caused by a significant amount of thatch (thick fibrous material on the soil surface) that has built up over time and which “heated up” too much last year causing plant death. This material needs to be removed to expose bare soil before the seed can be applied. It is important to make sure that any seed is covered with soil or a dressing.
Now is a good time to lightly scarify your lawn. Ideally, heavy scarification should be done in late summer but if we can lightly do them before the weather warms up too much, that will help lift out dead leaves etc from the winter. Again, the rules are simple, do not do it if the forecast is for bad/extreme weather.