Lawn Care Tips for April
Thursday, 8 April, 2021
Posted in April Lawn Care Tips
The lawn is growing rapidly in April but it may have sparse growth and weak colour, there's probably very limited nutrition contained within the soil due to heavy Winter rain.
The lawn is growing rapidly in April but it may have sparse growth and weak colour, there's probably very limited nutrition contained within the soil due to heavy Winter rain leaching out the Nitrogen so feeding is essential to help it through the Summer months.
Commencing at the start of the month, the main Summer fertiliser can be applied, we use two types:
- 3-month combined fast and slow release (which requires a follow-up treatment in mid-Summer).
- 6-month slow release which will last throughout the whole Summer. Ideal for general utility lawns, not suitable for fine turf.
There are advantages and disadvantages in both types of feed and we can advise on the most suitable. Both fertilisers contain slow-release nitrogen to encourage strong green growth, phosphate to encourage strong deep rooting (this will help survival in drought conditions) and potash to help build strength and disease resistance.
At the start of the month when temperatures are starting to rise, weeds will put on strong growth, this is ideal for successful spray application due to maximum leaf area. One application in April or May will control most weeds but deep-rooted plants may require a second treatment later in the year. A foliar feed can be added to the spray to encourage rapid greening of the lawn.
By the end of the month, the lawn should be cut on a weekly basis and the height of cut lowered gradually. No more than one third of the grass should be removed, any more than this will cause stress and stunting, this is why fortnightly mowing can cause severe yellowing. Most people now tend to use rotary mowers, either petrol or electric. We offer rotary and cylinder mowing, cylinder mowing gives a better-quality cut but is only suitable for fine lawns, most of our clients choose to have either pedestrian mower or tractor rotary mowing. We offer cutting widths of 16", 21" or 31" in rotary mowers and 20" in cylinder. Prices are calculated on size of lawn in square metres....not per hour.
We are getting towards the end of the season for moss control. Moss is encouraged by many factors including: high/low pH, mower scalping, compaction, heavy shade & waterlogging. Unless these factors are corrected, moss will always return. Moss killing can be carried out from Autumn until Spring, once or several times, this will stop moss becoming too invasive. The treatment works rapidly and the results can be seen on the same day as treatment. The dead moss can be left to deteriorate or scarified out. It would be beneficial to aerate (spike) the lawn after moss treatment to allow the soil to breathe. Mosskillers tend to scorch the lawn as we get into warmer weather so April and May are the final months that we carry-out this task until Autumn.
April is the ideal time to tackle leatherjackets, these are the larvae of the Cranefly (Daddy Long Legs) and can completely destroy a lawn by eating the roots during the Spring. The leatherjackets are deep in the soil during the Winter but as the weather warms-up they will come closer to the surface to feed on the roots. The damaged turf will show as brown/dead patches which will die due to lack of root growth, very often birds will peck at the soil to get at the larvae and this will cause additional damage, the larvae can usually be spotted on the soil surface. The main period for controlling leatherjackets is September but a double dose treatment in March/April is also effective. The March/April treatment can be applied when the soil temperature reaches 8-10 Celsius. The lawn needs to be spiked before application, this will allow the nematodes rapid access to the rootzone, the nematodes should be applied in a solution containing a wetting agent and then watered-in.
Fusarium disease is still common at this time of year, particularly on fine turf, it shows as brown/orange spots of approximately 3-5 cm across. It tends to thrive in wet/humid conditions or on lawns with heavy thatch. Although new grass will grow back into the diseased turf, it may not be the same species as the original lawn so therefore changing the quality, this will create a lawn of poorer grasses, possibly consisting of a higher percentage of weed grasses such as annual meadow grass or Yorkshire fog. All diseases can be treated with a fungicide or by generally improving cultural practice.
Light scarification can be carried-out in April, this is to reduce procumbent growth, lift trailing weeds and remove additional moss. Heavy scarifying will cause stress to the lawn and cause it to stunt, especially heading into the warmer Summer months. Spring tines fitted to a scarifier are probably better than blades as they are much gentler at this time of year. Any bare patches can be overseeded.
Solid tine aeration can be carried out throughout the Spring and Summer. The reason for tining at this time of year is to aid water penetration through the moss and thatch layer, this will encourage deeper rooting therefore helping to tolerate drought conditions. Fertiliser application will also be aided by the nutrients reaching the rootzone rather than lying on the surface. Spiking can be carried out as a one-off or monthly treatment plan.
As we head towards the Summer, it's worth thinking about how to help prevent the lawn from going brown in dry periods. There's no way of totally preventing the grass from going dormant but applying a 'wetting agent' will assist in keeping the lawn green by allowing water to reach the rootzone rather than lying on the surface and evaporating. A wetting agent reduces the surface tension of water enabling it to travel to the rootzone rapidly through layers of moss and thatch. Wetting agents will also help to green-up areas of 'localised dry patch' and 'fairy rings'. To be effective, it needs to be applied on a monthly basis from April until August and can be incorporated into a treatment or mowing plan.