Lawn Care In The First Days of Spring

What’s up lawn lovers! How is that daylight savings time working out for you on this very first day of Spring? Here in Southwest Florida, the sun is setting right about 7:45 PM or so which is great, but what’s even better is sunrise comes late at about 7:45 AM… meaning I can get up and see it!

Here’s one from my favorite spot in downtown St Pete, FL, overlooking Tampa Bay.

Regardless of daylight savings time and our clocks, the days are definitely getting longer.

Longer daylight hours mean more time to #EnjoyTheMow because your lawn is grabbing more sunlight for photosynthesis. The days are now over 12 hours long here as of just the last few days. Check out this cool (eye) chart I got from here.

Today, the first day of spring, my daylight will last 12 hours, 7 minutes. If you look at just a little more than a month later, end of April (April 30), that’s when we really see the days kick in at well over 13 hours (for me here, 13 hours, 11 minutes of daylight, April 30). Want to know something even neater than that? You northerners actually gain more daylight quicker than those of us down here in the warm south.

Check out the same chart from Chicago, IL.

Currently, we have nearly the same daylight hours. You Chicagoans get an extra 2 minutes. But by April 30, you have passed me up and are at 14 straight hours of beautiful daylight!

This BTW, is also why typically the biggest dandelion bloom every year in Chicago is sometime right around the last 10 days of April or the first 10 days of May. More sunlight and spring rains bring more penetrating heat which makes those nasty dandy’s come to life.

What’s this all about anyway? Well, it’s my way of trying to get you guys up north cheered up because I know the cabin fever is killing you right now! Longer days mean more melted snow and that can’t come soon enough!

For my friends down here in the south, we’ve had a pretty rough go of it too. Night temps here have been in the 40s for the last 2 weeks and days have soared over 80. Think about how big those temp fluctuations are!

80+ during the day tells St Aug, Bermuda and Zoysia to get growing, only to have them fall back into a strange slumber over night when unseasonably cool temps put them into a coma. Add in the fact that it’s the dry season and pretty much every lawn is struggling right now.

It’s definitely shaping up to be an interesting year. So here are my recommendations for the mid/end of March timeframe:

Recommendations this week:

Florida Lawns - get on top of your irrigation strategy. I’m assuming you are throwing down starter fert and/or Milorganite like I am and therefore, you don’t want to get caught with a lawn that is suffering from lack of water. We are not going to get much rain help until later May so we’ll have to do the work of Mother Nature ourselves. Remember, our rainy season is June-September… pretty much opposite the rest of the country.

(Note: I am expecting a big thunderstorm here tomorrow. That’s when we will see the results of my Epic Dose from last weekend’s video)

So anyway, Florida, You are coming up on your next pre-emergent app. It’s optional, Pennant Magnum. You’ll want to invest here if you have issues with Doveweed or signalgrass (I hate signalgrass). You should also consider it for its ability to suppress kyllinga and nutsedge (which is why I use it also). If you are coastal and get sandbur in your lawn, again, suppression. You’ll also be getting redundancy on crabgrass, poa annua and other grassy weeds.

Lastly - time to start thinking about insects in the lawn. Chinch bugs are pretty much now and the rest of the year. Mole crickets will be here in May/June and fire ants are also building mounds! Grubs too! What can we do? First, read this handy manual from UF. It tells you methods for insect ID and encourages integrated pest management strategies. However, should you need to spray, this product covers all of them, including the resistant chinch bug populations we are seeing in southern FL. More on that coming soon.

Southern/Warm Season Lawns - like you guys in Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Carolinas… your rainy season is pretty much now and is probably going to slow way down. You should get on top of your irrigation as well. You guys will have St Augustinegrass, Bermuda, Zoysia, and Centipede. It’s a good idea for you to also get some Pennant Magnum down if you have issues with the above mentioned weeds, but also, you guys will be fighting foxtail, crowfoot grass and goosegrass. Pennant does well with all of these.

Here is a neat map showing your rainfall totals over the last few months:

Transition Zones - Again, tough to know what you are facing as you all have varying grass types, but for sure if you have not applied your first application of pre-emergent you need to do that. Go straight in for dithiopyr (Dimension). The granular is the easiest and quickest way to get this done and you’ll be glad you did, be sure to water it in. Remember, it’s not going to stop weeds and problem grasses that are already in your lawn - but it will stop quite a few more from invading so you can get your turf healthy enough to help you.

You should also be diligent in spot spraying any weeds that come into your lawn. The last thing you want to see is lagging turf and big, tall, strong weeds. Get them out of there before they become an issue.

Cool Season Lawns - I know you guys are still just sitting in that holding pattern. This time of year is nothing but a tease for you, I know. Good news for you is it’s not too late to get stocked up and ready to go. Prodiamine Granular (back in stock) is a great choice for you and can go down when the forsythia bloom - probably in about 2 weeks or so.

With that, I hope you have a great start to Spring, and I’ll see you in the lawn!



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