March is most important month for greening of lawn
Granulated lime works best; non-toxic product deals with grubs
When I was a kid, living in Concord, N.H., March was called the "slush" month. Why? There was usually snow on the ground until late in the month, but the ground was not frozen as it was in December, January and February. If one walked off of the sidewalks and onto the soil, what was found was soft, snow-wet soil that we called slush. March stayed slushy in most years for the entire month. The local farmers used the slush month as the right time to spread manure in the fields as the ground was soft and the snow helped turn the manure into a fertilizing "tea".
March lawn in need of nutrients.
March is the month to prepare for nice green lawns. Spreading manure is not a passage of spring any more. Most of the old farms have been broken up into smaller lots for homes and other land uses. Two acres of grass though is a lot of grass instead of the multi-acres of farms, fields and forests that used to make up the majority of our environments.
The most important thing that home owners can do to improve the quality appearances of their yards is to nurture them. The first step is buy granulated lime, get a broadcast spreader, and before all of the snow melts, spread lime on the yard. In New Hampshire if green is the look one wants, then lime needs to be spread twice annually because our soil is traditionally sour. By spreading granulated lime on the lawns before the snow has melted off one can get a "lime tea" to soak in through the thatch to the grass roots.
Granulated lime is wonderful for yards. As opposed to regular garden lime which is white and rather messy when spilled, granulated lime is manageable and non-messy. In a broadcast spreader lime is evenly distributed which stops "striping" of grass which drop-spreaders often cause. Granulated lime when spilled can be swept up and bagged without leaving the white residue (on driveway and garage floors) that garden lime leaves. While it may be a bit more expensive, the advantages to granulated lime are worth the additional expense.
Since most of the things we grow in and around our grass require neutral-to-sweet soil to achieve maximum growth and production, liming our yards twice a year will assist greatly to gain the wanted "green" production. A neutral Ph is 7.0. If the home owner wants to know what amendments to the soil are needed, he can take a small sample of his soil from test holes (teaspoon size) from areas around the yard. Put the teaspoons of soil in a baggy, shake to mix, and take the sample to a UNH Cooperative Extension testing location. There, when the Cooperative Extension people know what you wish to grow, they will test the soil and return to the home owner a list of soil amendments.
A less accurate way to know what the Ph of the soil is can be done by using a testing kit or rod. March is the ideal month to get the soil prepared for the coming growing year. Testing does not need to be done every year. By looking at your crops and flowers during the growing year one can usually tell if there is a correct Ph balance.
Granulated lime will soak into lawn as snow melts. Grubex will kill those pesky grubs all season long.
If you are one of those people who desires to have the nicest green lawn in the neighborhood, there is another product that needs to be spread evenly on the lawn. This is a grub-killing product. In the past it was highly poisonous. That meant that the attempt to kill grubs also was dangerous to use around one's children and pets. In the last dozen or so years a new, more effective grub product was released which is based on the yearly life cycle of grubs and is highly effective while being non-toxic.
Grubs in our area come from some 400+ varieties of June bugs, Japanese beetles and other insects. Their life cycles show that in their mature states they mate and lay eggs on the lawn. When the eggs hatch, the grubs drill through the thatch and begin feeding on the roots of the grass. When winter comes, the grubs go deeper into the soil down below the frost line and wait out the cold weather. In spring the grubs come back up to the roots of the grass and begin feeding anew until they hatch into mature insects. July and August are the months that we have June bugs on our screens because they were attracted to the inside lights; August is the month that Japanese beetles are found eating green leaves in our gardens.
The new "bug killer" on the market is made from a non-toxic-to-people (and animals) product that has a longevity life that mirrors the life cycle of the grubs. It, like granulated lime, is granulated and is non-messy when spilled. Using a broadcast spreader, it can be evenly distributed across the yard. The product can be walked, played on and it will be toxic to grubs for up to a year. When the product gets wet it lives within the grass roots for 12 months. The grubs poison themselves when they eat the roots.
A final thought about grass is that when cutting it, the mower blades need to be at such a height that only the top 1/3 of the blades of grass are removed. If more than the upper third of the blades of grass are removed then the ability of grass to grow will be inhibited. Cutting grass is pruning grass, so to speak. As with pruning trees, shrubs and bushes, no more than 1/3 of the total canopies (leaves and limbs) should be removed for the good health of the plants. Make March the month to prepare for the perfect lawn with granulated lime, granulated grub control and lawn mowers with sharp cutting blades set to high positions. Then for the rest of the summer, frequent mowing and a normal rain fall will deliver the green look one wants.
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