With all the products available on the market for lawn care, it can be confusing to decide which one to use when. Your ultimate goal is to have dense, vigorous turf that will be able to crowd out weeds and tolerate wear, weather and insect damage.
A low maintenance program recommends fertilizing just once a year in the early fall. Fall feeding promotes root and shoot growth while spring feeding promotes mostly shoot and leaf growth. If your lawn is established and in pretty good condition but you still want to fertilize in the spring, wait until late May after the first flush of growth is over, but before the hot weather sets in. Late May is also the best time of year to use organic lawn fertilizers because they need warm soil temperatures to work.
April and early May is NOT the time to fertilize your lawn. When you apply fertilizer now, during the time when the grass is producing mostly leaf growth, the fertilizer goes right to those new leaves which you are just going to mow off. This means more mowing for you, and less root development for your lawn, which is your primary goal.
To repair bare sections in your lawn, rake the area to loosen the soil, mix grass seed with some good soil in a bucket, then sprinkle this mixture over the area and press it down firmly with your foot. If the area to be reseeded is large, it would be worthwhile to rent a roller to roll over the area. Pressing the seed into to soil makes a big difference in the speed and rate of germination. Water the reseeded areas daily until the new growth becomes visible.
Amy Ivy is Executive Director with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clinton County. Office phone numbers are: Clinton County 561-7450, Essex County 962-4810, Franklin County 483-7403. Or visit www.cce.cornell.edu/ecgardening