04 Mar Spring Maintenance Tips for Your Bluegrass or Fescue Lawn
Spring Maintenance Tips for Your Bluegrass or Fescue Lawn
Spring is right around the corner and with it comes warmer temperatures, sunshine and changing soil conditions. As a result, the maintenance and nutrients your bluegrass or fescue lawn needs also change. This can be especially important in the spring as you will begin mowing and fertilizing your cool season lawn again. However, there are a few things to watch out for as you begin your seasonal maintenance again. Read on for a compiled list of spring maintenance tips for a bluegrass or fescue lawn. Be sure to also check out our seasonal maintenance guides for bluegrass, fescue and Bella® Bluegrass.
Bluegrass and Fescue Spring Mowing
As the weather warms up, most homeowners begin bringing out their lawn mower. The timing for which the first mow of the spring for your mature, established bluegrass or fescue occurs widely varies depending on the area you live in. Considering that cool season grasses thrive in the transition zone and northern parts of the country, you’ll want to time your first mow of the spring to occur after the last freeze.
Generally speaking, mid-April is about the time for you to begin your regimen for spring. Refer to the Farmer’s Almanac to figure out when the last frost date occurs for your area this year.
Don’t make the mistake of mowing your bluegrass or fescue lawn too short—be sure to adhere to the recommended heights of 2.5–3.5 inches for both types of grasses. Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade. Many homeowners want to hack the grass down for the first mow of the spring. This is not advised.
During the winter, cool season grasses lose their color, but still remain green compared to warm season grasses like zoysia or St. Augustine. It is common for frost to yellow the bluegrass or fescue in the winter though (necrosis). In the spring, cool season grass greens up and homeowners begin fertilizing and mowing their lawn. If bluegrass or fescue is mowed too low and it is heavily fertilized all spring while going into the summer, it will be much more susceptible to severe drought stress, disease and weed infestation.
Lastly, a good tip for spring mowing it to make sure your lawn mower blades are sharpened so that the mower blades neatly slice through the grass in place of ripping them. If the grass blades aren’t cut neatly, the mower is ripping them and therefore opens the grass up to the possibility of disease outbreaks. Performing regular maintenance on your mower is good practice for the end of the mowing season or before spring takes place.
Bluegrass and Fescue Spring Fertilizing
Spring can serve as one of the most important times for fertilizer applications as you will be setting your grass up for success for the rest of the year. However, you should be cautious of over-fertilizing as this will lead to many issues as the weather warms up in the summer.
Similarly to mowing, it is recommended that fertilization applications take place after the last freeze in your area has occurred. If you fertilize your grass before the last freeze hits, you may damage it. Refer to the Farmer’s Almanac to figure out the last frost date for your area this year.
Sod University recommends two different options for spring bluegrass or fescue fertilization: Lawnifi Foundation, a slow-release granular option that comes in 25 lb. bags and lasts for three months, and our Lawnifi Spring Fertilizer Box, a liquid fertilizer program that includes three bottles of liquid fertilizer that can be applied monthly with a hose-end sprayer. Each option covers 5,000 sq. ft. Learn more in Granular vs. Liquid Fertilizers or by clicking the two products listed below. Our patented nano-fertilizers with Catalyst TechnologyTM give your lawn the jump-start it needs to green up fast and thrive throughout the spring months. Read Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer? for more information about Lawnifi.
It is also common for bluegrass or fescue spring fertilizer applications to contain both fertilizer and crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide. Crabgrass Control Plus 0-0-7 with 0.37% Prodiamine Herbicide is a great option for bluegrass and fescue lawns in the spring.
With either option, be sure to wait until the turf has fully greened up and grown enough. Soils may still be very cold, so they will not be taking up any nutrients. If you notice any signs of disease, apply a systemic fungicide first and wait for the disease to be treated. Applying fertilizer with nitrogen in it will feed the disease.
Bluegrass or Fescue Spring Watering
Bluegrass and fescue don’t need much watering during the winter months. As it starts to green up, it will require about one inch of water per week including rainfall. If you aren’t sure how to measure how much water your lawn is receiving, an irrigation audit may be beneficial to you.
The next few tips in this article discuss spring applications for fungicides, herbicides or insecticides. If any of these control products or fertilizers are granular, you will need to water the product in so that your lawn absorbs it. This means that you will already be watering your lawn with the appropriate amount of water during the week of application. The same can be said with any liquid products as they are either products that attach to the end of your garden hose or require tank mixing with water.
Bluegrass and Fescue Spring Weed Control
The most important thing you can do for any weed issues your lawn may be having come springtime is to apply a pre-emergent herbicide. A pre-emergent herbicide functions to prevent weeds from emerging from the surface of the soil, as its name suggests. So if you know you get a lot of weeds in the summer like crabgrass, goosegrass or others, applying a pre-emergent to keep them from even appearing may be a good idea for you. It will also save you time, money spent on more product and effort from pulling the weeds that appear in the future. It’s actually not recommended you use an herbicide in the summer or winter, so pre-emergents can be especially useful for this reason. Read more about this in The Best and Worst Times for Herbicide Applications.
Pre-emergents should be applied during the spring when ground temperatures reach about 55 degrees Fahrenheit for about 72 hours. The exact dates for these applications differ depending on the area you live in, but generally speaking, pre-emergents should be applied between March 1st and March 15th in the spring. For more information, read our blog on spring pre-emergent applications and refer to our recommended pre-emergent herbicides below.
- Coverage: 50 lbs. covers about 12,500 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient(s): Prodiamine 0.37%.
- Ease of Use: Requires granular drop or broadcast spreader for application.
- Best Used On/For: Established warm and cool season turfgrass before weeds appear.
Bluegrass and Fescue Spring Insect Control
If your lawn has suffered from insect damage around this time in the past, it is a good idea to apply a broad-spectrum insecticide at this time to prevent them from coming back again. If the insecticide is a granular product, be sure to water it in so that it soaks into your soil. If it is a liquid product, you will either need to attach it to the end of your garden hose or tank mix it. One of the most common spring insects in bluegrass and fescue are white grubs—especially in the months of April and May. You can read more about these insects in our Insect Identification blog. Refer to some of our most popular and effective insect control products below.
Bluegrass or Fescue Spring Fungus Control
Unlike warm season turfgrasses, there’s typically no real reason to make fungicide applications in the spring for cool season grasses. If, however, you notice disease in your bluegrass or fescue lawn, here are a few recommended products for disease treatment:
- Coverage: One bottle covers 2,500 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient(s): Propiconazole 1.45% and Lamda-cyhalothrin 0.08%.
- Ease of Use: Hooks up to your garden hose for even spray application.
- Best Used On/For: Outdoor topical/contact fungus and general insect control.
Lastly, if you notice thatch that is thicker than 1⁄2 inch, dethatch in late May. For compact soils, consider aerating in late spring instead. Read more in Aerating vs. Dethatching.
Spring maintenance tips somewhat differ from maintenance practices that take place during the rest of the year because the weather is starting to warm up and everything starts to turn green again. Although cool season grass doesn’t usually go dormant during the winters, snow in a lot of the areas up north starts to melt and your lawn will receive more sunlight. It is important to partake in spring maintenance so that you can set your lawn up for success for the rest of the year.
Subscribe to our e-newsletter below if you haven’t done so already to receive the latest updates from Sod University.