This past week has been interesting. We saw temperatures reach a record high and then drop back to normal — and possibly a frost thrown in for good measure. This is the type of week where the phrase "If you don't like New England weather, just wait a minute" is really appropriate.
There have been quite a few customers asking questions about their lawn during the past week. I will discuss my answers.
Those of you who read this column each week know that I said to put down your crabgrass control when the forsythia is in bloom. The reason for this is that crabgrass seeds sprout at about the same soil temperature that makes the forsythia bushes flower.
Forsythia bushes burst into bloom in a very short period of time. This made quite a few people panic because they thought they had run out of time to apply crabgrass control. If you looked at the thermometer on the days the temperature reached the upper 70s and low 80s, the air temperature was enough to cause the forsythia to open their flowers. But fast forward to this week and the temperatures are cool, if not cold.
These temperatures will cause the forsythia flowers to last a long time. Since there is always a catch, we also have relatively dry soil conditions. If the forsythia needs to take up water to make the flowers last, the flowers may drop prematurely.
Totally confused? Just think how the plants feel in this kind of weather. Ultimately, if you have the lawn raked up, you can — and should — be applying the crabgrass control. Do you have more time to do this application? Yes, due to the arrival of cool weather. The extended forecast calls for normal temperatures this week and into the weekend. This should allow you enough time to get the product onto your lawn.
The next question was about moss. Many of you will look at your lawn and see moss growing. You may have never had moss, and you wonder why you do now.
Moss needs two out of three conditions to grow: moist soil, acidic soil and shade.
"Moist soil" usually refers to lawns with a clay type of soil that drains poorly. If you think back to the winter, we had enough cool weather and enough rain or light snow to keep the soil surface relatively wet. This makes for almost-perfect growing conditions for moss. If your lawn had acidic soil, and there was some shade, the moss had all winter to grow under the best of conditions.
Most people want to rake out the moss and reseed the area. You can rake it out, but it will come right back. You need to apply a moss killer. Once it is dead, you can rake it out, and it should not come back if the conditions don't remain favorable for moss growth.
This means you should apply lime to the soil to prevent acidic soil, and you may want to amend the soil to increase the drainage. Once you make it hard for the moss to grow, you should be able to get the grass to grow again.
Questions about grass seed have also been coming in. Even though the air was nice, the soil temperatures were not warm enough for grass seed to sprout. Once you see the grass actively growing, you can put down seed.
People also asked if it was too early to apply grub control. The grubs are feeding, as evidenced by the skunks digging up lawns to feed on the grubs. So, yes, you should be putting down your grub control now.
Well, that's all for this week. I'll talk to you again next week.
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Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.Harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.