Question: My lawn is weedy and full of thatch. What can I do this spring to give it a boost and develop a first class lawn?

Answer: First, mow your lawn at a one inch height to smooth the bumps developed over winter.

Take care of your thatch problem by applying a granular product called Natural Guard Soil Activator which contains humates or humic acid. Humic acid is a natural product which stimulates micro-organism activity in the soil. The micro-organisms use the thatch for food and remove it over a period of about six to eight weeks. This process releases nitrogen into the soil which also stimulates grass growth.

You could also hire a landscape contractor or rent a thatch removal machine which has vertical blades that dig the thatch out. Although this is a quicker process it is often uneven and may leave open sections of turf if not adjusted accurately.

Then in late April or May apply lawn fertilizer. I prefer fertilizer which contains iron, sulfur and some of the nitrogen in a slow release form. Check the “guaranteed analysis” label for iron, sulfur and slow release nitrogen. Slow release nitrogen will last well into summer instead of being used up in the first few weeks after fertilization. Sulfur coated and poly coated nitrogen is slow release. Sometimes granules are coated with both sulfur and poly. If slow release nitrogen is included in the fertilizer it will usually indicate what percentage on the analysis label. I use a 27-3-4 fertilizer with iron, sulfur and 60 percent poly coated slow release nitrogen.

If a fertilizer has slow release nitrogen, a second application should be made in the fall. If no slow release nitrogen is included, two more applications should be made in the summer and fall.

There are three ways to control the weeds in your lawn: Dig them out one at a time, spray them with a liquid lawn weed killer or use a granular fertilizer which contains a weed killer (known as weed and feed).

If you dig rosette weeds like dandelion, make sure you dig deep enough to get most of the root. A forked weed digger, often called a “dandelion digger," does the job well. Weeding tools that do not require you to bend over are also available. Digging is the best way to remove coarse grassy weeds which are resistant to lawn weed killers.

Both liquid lawn weed killers and granular weed and feed products contain a combination of ingredients that kill broad leaf weeds without killing lawn grass. Roundup and similar weed killers containing glysophate will kill grassy weeds, but will also kill lawn grass if spilled on it.

Granular weed and feed products should be applied when the lawn is moist, such as after morning dew or rain. Liquid lawn weed killers should be applied when the lawn is dry and will remain dry for six hours. Rain can wash off both granular and liquid lawn weed killers making them ineffective.

Mow your lawn once or twice more at the 1-inch height. Then raise mowing height to 2 inches for the rest of the summer. The leaf blades are the food manufacturing portion of the grass plant. Longer leaf blades develop stronger healthier lawns.

Allen Wilson can be contacted at allenw98663@yahoo.com.

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