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COLUMN: Window quickly closing for spring lawn renovations

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By Bryce Roberts

Winter outstayed its welcome this year, and with the weather finally warming up, many Kentuckians are anxious to get outside and make improvements to their yards. For those who plan to seed grasses this spring, now is the time to do it, said Gregg Munshaw, extension turf specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.
“Cool-season grasses are going to start germinating soon. Seeds planted in the spring will begin to germinate around the time that forsythia begins to bloom, which is occurring now,” he said. “If you live in Central or Eastern Kentucky and don’t get your seed out this week, there’s a good chance it’s going to fail. The optimal time for seeding may have already passed for Western Kentucky.”
While spring is the time when most homeowners start thinking about their lawns, Munshaw said it’s really not ideal.
“Spring is really the second best time to seed grasses,” he said. “Ideally, homeowners should seed and fertilize their lawns in the fall. Crabgrass germinating in the spring will outcompete weak grass seedlings. Our summers are hot and dry, and cool-season grass seedlings aren’t able to handle the heat well.”
To control crabgrass this spring, homeowners who have or are planning to seed their lawns, may want to use a pre-emergence herbicide containing the active ingredients siduron or mesotrione at the time of planting. If homeowners aren’t planting seed this spring, they should apply pre-emergence within the next 1.5 to two weeks, as crabgrass will germinate soon. Another rule of thumb concerning forsythia is when the blooms begin to fall, crabgrass germination is not far behind. Homeowners who can’t get a pre-emergence herbicide out quickly enough may want to use dithiopyr, a pre-emergence herbicide that can also provide some post-emergence protection. Farm supply stores or garden centers are good places to purchase herbicides.
Individuals who applied fertilizers in the fall will not need to reapply in the spring or summer. Those who were planning to fertilize this spring should have their soil tested and fertilize according to the recommendations.
If all of the new seed does not germinate this spring, homeowners should wait until fall to reseed.
In addition, many homeowners may notice a lot of winter broadleaf weeds, like henbit and chickweed, already in their lawns. While these will likely die on their own soon, they are also producing seed for next year now. An herbicide containing 2,4-D can kill the weeds and stop seed production, which would be beneficial to lawns next year, Munshaw said.
Feel free to contact me at your Spencer County Cooperative Extension Service at 477-2217 or you can email me at broberts@uky.edu.  You can visit the Spencer County Extension Services’ website at www.spencerextension.com.
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.