As the grass greens up, homeowners are keen to get out and start working on their lawns. A little patience and care at this point will reward the gardener with a fine lawn later.
The sight of new grass inspires you to run out and spread fertilizer to help the young blades along. This is the last thing you should do for fescue and bluegrass lawns. The proper time to feed grass is in the fall, when the roots that will sustain the plants through the following summer are actively growing. Even if the fall feeding was missed, spring feeding should be limited to a light feeding (about half a pound of 10-10-10, per 100 sq. ft.) after the initial flush of growth has subsided - probably sometime in May or early June.
Lime on the other hand, should be applied in early spring, if soil tests show that it is necessary. Most lawn grasses grow best at soil pH's of 6.0 to 7.0, so have your soil's pH analyzed every two to three years to be sure you are staying in that range. The soil test results will include recommendations on how much lime to apply.
The best time to establish a new lawn from seed is in the fall, but many homeowners will need to reseed patches of lawn that have been damaged during the winter. Seed sown during March and early April will grow if it is well watered and cared for, from seeding right through the heat of summer.
It is a good idea to fertilize newly seeded grass using a high phosphorous fertilizer (2.5 pounds of 5-10-5 per 100 square feet when patch seeding) which will help root growth. The grass will be stronger and healthier if you water daily until the plants are established. Water about once a week through the summer - the leaves of the grass may look great but the roots are not as long and dense as those of the grass in an established lawn.
When your lawn is ready for its first cut, donít cut too short. Mow to about two inches during the spring, then raise the cutting height another half inch when summer arrives. Mow frequently so that no more than one third of the grass blade is removed at one time.
Along with the grass, several weeds are probably growing in your lawn. The best prevention for a weedy lawn is to provide such great growing conditions that the grass crowds out the weeds. If the weeds are sparse, use that early spring energy to hand pull those weeds.
March is still a little early for dethatching and insect control, so after taking care of the few necessary lawn chores for early spring, you can relax and save your energy for summer mowing.