Most of our Pikes Peak region lawns are cool-season grasses. That means that most active growth occurs when temperatures are 60 to 75 degrees F. Kentucky bluegrass, fescues and rye are cool-season grasses. These grasses benefit from some early spring care.
Here are a few pointers toward a great lawn this year:
In 2020, Colorado Springs enacted permanent restrictions on water use for landscapes. Residents are not permitted to water more than three times per week, or to water between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from May to October. But don’t let that concern you — that is more than you need to water your lawn.
Irrigate only when the turf indicates water is needed. Look for signs of wilt, which often show up in the same location on the lawn time after time. Footprints or lawn mower tracks that remain at least a half-hour after traffic has passed indicate irrigation is needed.
Turf will also turn a shade of blue-gray when it is water-stressed and in need of irrigation. If you are not home to monitor the lawn, consider a smart irrigation controller. It will monitor weather to estimate water needed and adjust seasonally and in response to rainfall.
Roots need access to oxygen in the soil. Since we cannot cultivate soil under turf, compaction is a problem in lawns. The solution is core aeration, a process whereby 2- to 3-inch-deep plugs are pulled out of the turf, usually by a powered core aerator.
Aerators can be rented or there are landscaping services that will aerate your turf for a modest fee. Water your lawn one or two days before aeration. Leave the plugs on your lawn to decompose. Aerate as soon as the soil is not frozen or snow-covered. Earlier is better. Spreading a thin layer of compost over turf after aeration can be helpful to improve soil.
The core “holes” make terrific space to germinate new seed. By reseeding with newer seed cultivars, you can gradually improve the quality of your turf.
Use seeds that are appropriate to your growing conditions. Reseeding can be done once the ground is at least 45 degrees.
Spring is a good time for a first application of fertilizer, if you did not apply in late fall. Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Using a spreader will ensure that your application is even and doesn’t damage the lawn.
Many fertilizers labeled for spring application also contain pre-emergent weed controls. It is important to make a conscious decision about whether to use these products. If you are reseeding, you do not want to apply a pre-emergent weed control, as it will prevent your grass seed from germinating. If you are going to apply a pre–emergent herbicide with the fertilizer, make sure the application occurs by mid-April.
To find fact sheets on lawn care: https://cmg.extension.colostate.edu/gardening-resources/online-garden-publications/lawns/
For information on the Colorado Springs Watering restrictions: https://www.csu.org/Pages/WaterWiseRules.aspx
Email gardening questions to [email protected]. For more information, visit facebook.com/ ColoradoMasterGardeners.EPC. To sign up for classes, go to epcextension.eventbrite.com.