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 sod. A lot of these tips can also be applied to a lawn with a fescue and bluegrass mix.
Be sure to also check out our seasonal maintenance guides for bluegrass, fescue and Bella® Bluegrass. Each maintenance guide is divided into sections for spring, summer and fall maintenance.
1. Begin Mowing Your Lawn at the Proper Height Again
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.
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 a third of the leaf blade or you may risk scalping the lawn. Many homeowners want to hack the grass down for the first mow of the spring. This is not advised.
Pictured above from left to right: A bluegrass lawn in the spring and a lawn mower setting.
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.
2. Start Your Lawn Off Right with the Appropriate Spring Fertilizer This Year
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.
Sod University recommends two different options as spring bluegrass or fescue fertilizers: 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 of the two options are great bluegrass and fescue fertilizers that cover 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.
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.
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.
3. Set Up a Spring Irrigation Schedule
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 more than likely 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.
Above all, read and follow label instructions thoroughly before watering any products in.
4. Control Weeds with a Pre- or Post-Emergent Herbicide
Pre-emergents should be applied during the spring when ground temperatures reach about 55 degrees Fahrenheit for about 72 hours. A pre-emergent herbicide functions to prevent weeds from emerging from the surface of the soil, as its name suggests.
The exact dates for these applications differ depending on the area you live in. For more information, read our blog on spring pre-emergent applications and refer to our recommended pre-emergent herbicides below.
Post-emergent products containing multiple broadleaf active ingredients like SpeedZone Broadleaf Herbicide for Turf are more effective in controlling broadleaf weeds. If you start to notice grassy weeds such as crabgrass or goosegrass, post-emergents like Drive XLR8 will treat them.
Be sure to follow product labels appropriately during application. Lastly, if you notice weeds and you aren’t sure which type of weed it is, check out our Identifying Common Lawn Weeds blog.
Pictured above from left to right: Crabgrass, goosegrass, clover, knotweed, spurge and lespedeza.
5. Watch Out for Insects That May Begin Coming Out
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. On the other hand, if it’s a liquid product, you will either need to attach it to the end of your garden hose or tank mix it.
As temperatures warm up, you’ll more than likely spot insects in your lawn and garden. One of the most common spring insects in lawns are white grub worms.
Scotts GrubEx and Dylox 6.2 are often used to treat currently existing grub worm infestations where as Imidacloprid-based products like Merit 0.5 G and Merit 2F (not pictured) prevent them.
Refer to some of our most popular and effective insect control products below and be sure to follow product label instructions before application. Read our blog on Insect Identification for more information about common lawn insects.
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:
Spring maintenance tips differ from other practices that take place during the rest of the year. Weather starts to warm up and everything will turn green again. Be sure to check out our individual Homeowner Maintenance Guides for bluegrass, fescue and Bella® Bluegrass.