Springtime growing seasons can be difficult to predict in eastern Nebraska because weather patterns can be volatile. However, the last frost of the year normally occurs from mid to late April, leaving little time for lawn care before the hot summer weather moves into the area. Here are some spring lawn care tips that will keep your lawn looking green and beautiful throughout the season.
Regionally common weeds like foxtail, crabgrass and spurge emerge as early as mid-Spring in eastern Nebraska. This is the perfect time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide so weeds are killed before they begin to germinate. For crabgrass, the best time to apply pre-emergent herbicide in the region is between April 20th to May 5th. This is around when crabgrasses tend to start germinating.
If you are planning on overseeding your lawn this spring, the only recommended herbicide to use is Siduron, which is also called Tupersan. This herbicide can maintain strong control over annual weeds such as crabgrass or foxtail, without damaging your other germinating grasses. If you are not planning on overseeding, look for these active chemicals in your herbicide: Pendimethalin, Benefin, Bensulide, or Prodiamine. However, do not forget to water in your herbicide immediately after. Make sure you spread out at least half an inch of water.
When choosing a seed type to use for overseeding, try sticking with cool-season grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass or Tall Fescue. These tend to grow fast enough to fill in unwanted dirt patches quickly. Annual Ryegrass can also work well for this purpose. The best time to overseed with Kentucky bluegrass is between April 1st to April 30th, while the best time for Tall Fescue is between April 15th and June 15th. Annual Ryegrass can be planted anytime during the spring season.
Before beginning the seeding process, rake out the dirt patch and loosen up the soil. Larger areas should either be aerated with a core aerator or power raked. This will allow for seeds to germinate more easily in the soil itself.
Power raking is only recommended if there is a thick thatch layer wider than half an inch present. When overseeding into an already existing lawn, follow the instructions of your grass blend, however, the amount spread out can be reduced by up to 50% due to the already present grasses.
If your lawn consists of mostly cool-season grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass or Tall Fescue, then the best time to fertilize your lawn in eastern Nebraska should be between April 20th and May 10th. This application can simply be fertilizer if you like, however, many times lawn owners tend to mix this application with a combination of nitrogen fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide.
Make sure your fertilizer is slow releasing because this keeps present nutrients from leaching down into the soil, making them unobtainable to your grasses. Apply anywhere from 0.5 to 1 pound of nitrogen fertilizer per 1000 square feet.
If your lawn consists of mostly warm-season grasses, it’s better to wait until the end of the spring to begin your fertilizer application. Apply anywhere from 0.5 to 1 pound of nitrogen fertilizer per 1000 square feet between mid-May and the beginning of June.
The taller you allow your grasses to grow, the deeper their root systems will spread. This can lead to more resistant roots against pests and diseases. Check out the Omaha Nebraska grass growing guide to find the right mowing height for your lawn and stick with the grass height you choose for the length of the summer. Also by leaning towards the taller end of grass height, you can actually help reduce crabgrass germination in your lawn.
It is recommended to cut the grass often enough that you’re never removing more than a third of the grass height at a time. This ensures that grass clippings left behind are never heavy enough to suffocate underlying grasses. If you keep up with your mowing, you will actually have no need to remove your grass clippings, as they will naturally decompose back into your lawn, providing a natural, organic fertilizer to keep your lawn looking healthy. Grass clippings should never appear in clumps.
Need help preparing your lawn for spring? Visit our Omaha lawn care page to get in touch with a professional!