Get Growing with Val

It's ok to start thinking about your lawn! In fact IT'S TIME! It's too soon to fertilize it but it's not too soon to develop your strategy. There's a lot of factors to consider when starting your lawn care regimen and that's where I come in. I'll raise some important questions that you might not have pondered yet but the answers to these questions will affect your lawn care choices.

Here goes: For starters, you need to decide if you will be applying any grass seed this Spring. The reason we need to know is because there are certain fertilizers you would have to avoid using when you seed. Typical Spring fertilizer can be too high in Nitrogen which can "burn" new seedlings. Also, if seeding you must stay away from any fertilizer containing weed control.....unless you choose one of the few that are safe for new seed. Ugh! I know all this can be confusing....but hang in there...we'll clear it up for you!

But before going any further, also decide if you will want to apply a Crabgrass control.  It's recommended in sunny areas of the lawn if crabgrass has been a problem for you in the past. If you are putting down a crabgrass control AND seeding, it's imperative you use the correct version of the crabgrass control. There are numerous crabgrass control options. The bag must say "Crabgrass Control For Newly Seeded Areas". If you don't use the right one your grass seed will not germinate!

Next, take a look at your yard and determine where you are sunny, shady or both. Note - the trees have not leafed out yet, so what might appear to be a sunny spot, may actually be a shady spot by the month of May! So look up at the surrounding trees and try to figure out where they will cast their shadows and take note of which areas of the lawn will be in sun or shade. Make a mental note and hold that thought!

Next, when is the last time you "Limed" your lawn. And by "Limed" I simply mean applied limestone. You may not know this but lawns, trees, shrubs, perennials, vegetables....all have a certain soil chemistry they prefer to grow in...a chemistry that helps them thrive. And by chemistry I am referring to their optimal pH. I'm sure you're familiar with the term pH.  pH is a measure of a substance's acidity/alkalinity. pH is measured on a scale of 1-14. The 1 would be hydrochloric acid....very acidic and 14 would be lye, very alkaline and 7 being nuetral, like drinking water. For instance, tomatoes do best in somewhat acidic soil. Lilacs in nuetral to alkaline soil. There are products you can use to adjust pH. For instance, Aluminum Sulfate acidifies the soil. Limestone "sweetens" (makes more alkaline) the soil. Plants can "survive" in a wide range of soil pH but knowing what a paticular plant prefers, and preparing the soil to acheive that preferred pH, will enable your plant to not just survive, but THRIVE! So it's good to know a few things about pH and good to know what your individual plant prefers. Grass grows best when the soil pH is at 6.5.....just slightly acidic. Note that soil in the entire North-East of the U.S. is generally acidic naturally and will require some amount of lime to raise the pH to near nuetral.  Lime, applied annually, maintains the desired pH level.  You can do a simple soil pH test to see where you're at and we'll tell you how much lime you'll need to get to the desired pH. Have an idea of your acreage or square footage to help us make that recommendation.

Lastly....do you have irrigation? The answer to this question will determine which varieties of seed will work best for you. If you don't have irrigation, you need to stick to varieties that develop deeper root systems. We can help you choose what's best.

So that's it. When you come in with the answers to all of the above questions, we can direct you to the right stuff! For instance, lets say you are seeding a very sunny lawn, you have irrigation and you want to apply crabgrass control. You would choose a grass seed with the word "SUN" in the name, such as AGWAY SUNNY GREEN. If you prefer a real sod-like appearance, go with the CHICK'S PICK, HIGH BLUE grass seed. It has a large concentration of bluegrass but it's only recommended if you have irrigation and you feed your lawn often as blue grass can be high maintenance requiring a lot of water in the heat of summer and lots of fertilizer to stay really green. Then you would select a fertilizer containing crabgrass control, being sure to purchase the one that says it is safe for new seed. (That one will also contain phosphorous which is a root stimulating nutrient designed for newly seeded areas!). So there's a lot to consider but we're here to guide you through the process. Stop in and let us help you GET GROWING!

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