The 2023 spring season is upon us and it isn’t even official spring yet! March 20 - June 21 is the official calendar spring - but the weather is way ahead of that!
The warm spells continue to sweep across the midwest and to the east. Seems pretty early doesn’t it?
Here is a picture I took in mid-April 2014 of crocus coming up at my house.
Crocus isn’t just a cool band name, they are actually the very first bulbs to bloom every season. Most years they come up through the last of the snow in early early March. They signal that all the rest of the bulbs will be blooming soon. But in 2014,when this was taken it was mid April before they came up. Super Late!
Now I feel like we are on the other extreme of that here 9 years later in 2023. Here is a picture I snagged from my friend Luke who lives in Crown Point, IN very close to my old house - he has a picture of daffodils coming up this week!. They are usually SECOND place to the crocus followed closely by early tulips. I think bluebells are in there somewhere too but who am I, the gardening nut? NO!! Ha ha!
Do you agree that these are early too? Are they early where you live?
Cool Season Lawns:
Those of you in snowy areas (cool season lawns) are at that point now where the weather is teasing you. You’ll go from 40 degrees with light rain and gray skies for weeks and then, for one day, usually on a Monday when you’re working… you get a blazing sun and cloud-proof blue sky day... ...the high crosses 58 degrees at 1PM and holds for about 3 hours until sundown.
You make any excuse you can to get outside on those days. You can smell it in the air - the spring is near.
Right now, if your ground is not frozen, you can get out and give the lawn a nice cut. Go ahead and cut one notch lower than normal if you want. Get leaves and debris cleaned up and rake out any areas that are matted. Lots and lots of raking my friends. Remember, airflow is the key to getting that lawn woken up.
Here is a fun video from 2014 where I show you how important all that raking is:
Early March considerations - Cool Season Lawns:
Get my free DIY Lawn Care App that will give you the right timing to get started this season.
Order your pre-emergents now. Start the season with Prodiamine. We have granular prodiamine and wettable dispersible granule, mix in a battery backpack sprayer and blanket spray - this is a little more difficult but gives you much greater control.
Also mix in 3oz per gallon RGS with it if you have some on hand.
Be sure to water it in! (I’m pretty sure spring rains will take care of this one for you. But be ready to handle it yourself anyway)
The key soil temperature for this first application is when you cross 50F heading to 55F. Keep in mind, these are soil temperatures. Here is the full pre-emergent guide that outlines the strategy in detail for you. Here is my app that gives you soil temps for your house in your pocket!
Question from the field: “Allyn, if I apply my pre-emergent and get a heavy downpour right after, did it all wash away?”
This is a tough one to logic your way through. I totally understand the feeling that you have about it. You really need it to work and are wondering if you should re-apply?
You read and follow my strategies and you know that I stress the fact that prodiamine needs to be watered in with at least ¼” of irrigation or rainfall and ½” would even be better. So you rely on the rain and for some reason, you get a “heavy storm” (not a technical term) and you think maybe it was too much?!
When I get this question in from customers, it’s hard for me to answer - I just don’t have any real hard facts to go on. Was it really a “heavy storm” or is it just the first heavier rain of the year and it seems heavy? You see where I’m going with this?
What I do have though is empathy for the fact that you think you may have had your application washed away and wasted.
So my answer always is to: trust the process.
2010, reviewing the day’s pre-emergent reports at TruGreen Merrillville, IN.
When I worked for TruGreen-Chemlawn, we applied thousands of applications of prodiamine that got rained on every single spring. I ran the Merrillville, IN operation in 2009/2010. In those days, my team of lawn technicians produced $35,000 per day in lawn applications -- at an average application price of $75. Do the math, that’s a lot of pre-emergent!
We used the VERY SAME prodiamine that I now make available to you though my website. At TruGreen, we did some applications dry and we did some liquid and applied it from ride-on spray equipment or from skid-sprayers mounted on the back of pickup trucks.
What I will tell you with 100% confidence is that I never witnessed widespread pre-emergent failure in our lawns. I can criticize TruGreen for a lot of things but one I can’t is their ability to eliminate crabgrass problems using pre-emergents. We were very good at it and that is why I teach those same strategies today (more on that below)
Bottom line: prodiamine is “sticky.” So be patient with it and trust that you made a proper application and it will do its job. I can tell you from experience, it will be fine.
Split Application Strategy
Next, I have redundancy built into the program for you just in case. This is why I recommend the “split application strategy” that gives us that second coat of paint (prodiamine) 35-35 days later.
Your second application is also prodiamine and it goes down when soil temps cross 65F heading to 70F. This overlap of the two applications gives you piece of mind that you have coverage if the first one did get rained on too heavily.
So there is that too! All good, get the app and thrower down!
Transition Zone Lawns
What about you transition zone folks?
You guys in the Carolinas, you are running hot too. Look at the soil temps for the past several days in Charlotte, NC
The blue line is 2023 actual temps and you can see it’s been running FAR above the black and green lines that represent the 5 and 10 year averages for that same day.
Remember, “go-time” for your first crabgrass pre-emergent is right when the soil temps pass 50. Once they hit 55 is when crabgrass seeds *can* start to germinate.
Normally, right about now is when you guys would be getting started with pre-emergents. Maybe a week ago or so. But right now, you can see we are running up above 63F already which is 10 degrees above normal. Like it says in the screenshot, you’re running hot!
Question from the field: Allyn, I’m in a transition zone and have not applied a pre-emergent yet - I missed the early window - Should I still apply?
First off, get my app so you have your exact soil temps in your pocket!
Now here’s the thing, you may be a little late, but you are not terribly late and you for sure can apply prodiamine and stop some of the crabgrass, maybe even a lot of it!
You see, not ALL of the crabgrass seeds in the lawn germinate on the same day as it hits 55F. Some are buried deeper and it takes longer for the heat to reach them. Others may be in shaded areas where the soil heats up a little later. Others just may lack moisture for some reason until later into the season.
Whatever the reason, if you are still inside the 50F - 75F (soil temps) zone then you can and should apply prodiamine ASAP.
This goes for ALL grass types in the transition zone, warm season and cool season, NOW is the time to get your prodimaine down and prevent crabgrass for this season.
Warm Season Lawns
Warm Season Friends, where you at? I have not forgotten about you! If you are following along with the pre-emergent guide then you are probably getting close to your second application of prodiamine.
In many cases, you are also having to get out and start spraying weeds that the pre-emergent doesn’t stop. Keep in mind, prodiamine is mainly for crabgrass, goosegrass and signalgrass in spring but it doesn’t stop everything.
That’s why I have been spending alot of time talking about weed control in warm season lawns. Here is a video I did showing you how to mix up and spray Image for Southern Lawns which is an excellent store bought weed killer that you can use on all warm season grass types. It’s fine on dormant bermuda and zoysia if you are a little further north but still have weeds.
Bermuda and Zoysia
Now is also the time to scalp your lawn if you have bermuda or zoysia. I did a full video here showing you the process. I also have a followup video here where you can see the results just 21 days later.
RIGHT NOW is the time for most of you across the south to get this scalping done but remember, it’s for bermuda or zoysia lawns only!
Did You Stop Carrying Celsius?
Real quick, we had to stop carrying the large bottles of Celsius weed control. It’s another one that works great on warm season lawns and if your day temps are over 85F you can still use it!
We now have the single use packs that can be put into 2 gallons of water and cover up to 2,000 sq ft (high rate) or you can mix that same pack in 4 gallons of water and cover up to 4,000 sq ft at the low rate. We have a limited amount of packets so get yours here.