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EDITOR'S NOTE: (Part 2 of a two–part series on lawn care)
First and foremost, do not fertilize your lawn at this time. The Extension Master Gardener Hot Line has received several calls on lawn fertilizing. As warm season grasses are grown in this area and the grass is just now starting to break dormancy, fertilizing now is a waste of time and money.
If you fertilize at this time before the grass has greened up, the grass will not be able to use the fertilizer. As a result, most of the fertilizer will either leach away from the rainfall or it will feed your crop of winter weeds. Grass needs to be actively growing before the roots can take up the nutrients provided by the fertilizer.
Do not use a feed and weed fertilizer. They work well in the cooler parts of the country where cool season grasses are grown. Again, warm season grasses are grown here.
If you wait until the grass can take up the nutrients in the weed and feed type fertilizer, the weeds have already produced seed for next years and are going to die after the first hot day we experience (that’s why they are called winter weeds!)
Do not overwater. A good general rule is to apply approximately 1-inch of water per week. Apply the 1-inch of water in two increments (a half inch every three to four days). You may need to apply a half inch of water ever two to three days during the hot summer months. Overwatering in the cool spring months can lead to a disease called brown patch that may attack your lawn
If aerating or dethatching your lawn is necessary, wait until the end of April. This will allow your grass to be actively growing and lessens the chances of causing damage.
Last, but not least, take soil samples so you will know exactly what your particular grass requires in the case of lime and fertilizer. Soil samples are still free in North Carolina. Call the Cooperative Extension Service for further information.
A simple rule of thumb concerning fertilizing and/or weed killing is to wait until after your lawn has greened up and you have had to mow the lawn twice. This allows the roots of the grass to become established
Send your gardening questions or comments to: Brunswick County Master Gardener Column, P.O. Box 109, Bolivia, NC 28422, or call 253-2610. Answers may be printed in this column.
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