Now that spring is officially here, we can really start to think about outdoor activities. Don’t get ahead of the weather though, that could cause more harm than good or cause us to have to do more work later. But now that spring is here, I thought I would help you with your to do list and when to do those things.
This is the time of the year when we start to see green in our lawns again. We begin to think it is time to fertilize, overseed, and use crabgrass control. Don’t get started on your lawn too early. It has been quite cold this winter and even this spring. If you get too ahead of the weather it can cause some plants to develop freeze damage or die. Overseeding can be done in April, but anytime by the end of April to the early part of May is still fine for overseeding. I would suggest waiting until at least the middle of April this year. According to Purdue University, the optimum air temperature for germination of Kentucky bluegrass seed is 59-86 degrees, for Tall fescue it is 68-86 degrees. So we can wait until it warms up more consistently before overseeding the lawn.
Fertilizer also can be left until later in the spring before it is applied. You can apply a fertilizer application as needed in mid to late April. Wait to see how the lawn greens up to determine if a spring application is necessary. If a lawn has a medium green hue in late April, skip the typical Arbor Day application in favor of one in late May to early June.
It’s also a good time to clean the lawn from winter debris. Branches and leaves may have fallen during the winter, now’s the time to rake these up and remove them before mowing begins. It’s also be a good idea to clean pet waste from your lawns. Pet waste tends to build up over winter and can become a pollutant in water when it runs off your lawn and into storm drains.
Don’t get started with crabgrass control too soon this spring. The soil temperatures are still in the low 40 degree range. Crabgrass preventer should not be applied until the soil temperature is consistently at 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if a few early warm days cause crabgrass to germinate, if these days are followed by freezing temperatures, any crabgrass that germinated will die from cold temperatures. If you apply crabgrass preventer too early in the spring, it will break down too early causing more crabgrass to germinate later in the year.
Spring vegetable gardens
Vegetable gardens can be worked in the spring as soon as the ground is dry and workable. Cool season crops such as peas, potatoes, carrots, raddish, kohlrabi, lettuce, and spinach can be planted now. Asparagus beds can be cleaned up now and new asparagus patches can be started. Make sure that the soil is dry before you work the garden or plant any vegetables. Planting into mud can compact the soil and disrupt the growth of plants.
Wait to plant warm season crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, and beans until Mother’s Day, or until after our average frost free date, which is the end of April for the Beatrice area.
Cleaning up perennials
If you didn’t clean your perennial beds last fall, wait until mid-April before you begin cleaning them this spring. Those plants have been protected from the plant debris from last year’s growth, removing that now would expose the crowns and could kill the plant if cold temperatures return. You can begin to refresh your mulch anytime now. Apply 2-3 inches of mulch around your flower beds to protect them from weed competition and to keep the roots at a uniform temperature with added moisture.