Minnesota Turf Care, Inc.


Common spring lawn care subjects:

Spring seeding vs using crabgrass control

     Since crabgrass control also prevents new grass seed from germinating through it, many homeowners are faced with a choice every spring: Should I reseed those bare spots this spring or protect my yard against crabgrass by having a pre-emergent crabgrass control applied?

The answer might surprise you- you can do both, but here's how:

Once a pre-emergent is applied, it sets up in the first 1/4" of the soil and prevents seeds below that layer to germinate through it.  By simply waiting until that barrier is established and then seeding on top of that layer (by applying the seed mixed with untreated soil) you will be able to spot seed areas while still having the crabgrass protection established below.

Timing can also be a factor- especially if you want to seed larger areas.  A natural fertilizer (one containing no herbicides or pesticides) can be applied in the early spring- allowing you to seed right away.  That seed will have germinated by the time the late spring treatment is due, at which time a pre-emergent can be applied in time to stop any crabgrass from germinating.

Vole (field mouse) damage

     Over the winter the meadow voles, otherwise known as field mice, will come out of hiding and create zigzagging paths of damage along the surface of your lawn while 'under the cover' of the snow cover. What is left in the spring is irregular patterns of clippings right down to the soil surface. How should vole damage be addressed?
The first thing that should be done is the resulting 'clippings' from the damage should be raked up and removed.  The root system was not harmed and often it those areas will be the first parts of the lawn to come out of dormancy and start putting up new grass shoots (provided it is raked up immediately).  Typically those areas do not need to be reseeded if the clippings are removed right away.  If they are not, and depending on the severity of the damage, those areas might need to be reseeded.  As mentioned above, the best option is to wait until the crabgrass control has been applied and then applying a soil & seed mixture to those areas that don't come back on their own.

Snow mold

     As the snow melts in the spring, often small spots will appear before the lawn comes out of dormancy.  These round spots are typically brown but sometimes have grey or even pink hues and start off only 6-8" in diameter before expanding. More frequently found on yards with debris like leaves were left or that were not cut shorter in the fall, these spots also tend to occur on lower lying parts of the yard, in matted down areas or where snow was piled higher during the winter. How should snow mold be addressed?

Simply lightly raking the areas affected with snow mold will minimize the stress and likelihood of the mold spreading to other areas until the lawn comes out of dormancy. Cutting the grass shorter, removing leaves and other debris and core-aerating the lawn this fall will help minimize the chances of snow mold next season.

Dog spots/damage

     When snow cover isolates you dog(s) to a small portion of your yard over the winter, damage often occurs. The severity your dog(s) will do to your lawn will vary based on the number, size and even the gender of the dogs involved. What is the best way to repair dog damage?

The spots are a result of either an excess amount of nitrogen or the change in soil pH from their urine.  Even if your solution is to reseed or sod those areas the cause of the problem needs to be addressed first.  Applying either granulated lime or gypsum to the areas and then soaking in that application will not only help adjust the pH back to where it once was, but will also help lower the excess nitrogen concentration. If the grass doesn't come back on its own over time at least your reseeding/sodding efforts are more likely to work once the root of the problem has been addressed.
Dethatching / Power-raking

     Minnesota Turf Care does not recommend dethatching or power-raking in most cases. As the lawn comes out of dormancy new shoots are being produced that, if subjected to the stresses of a dethatcher, tend not to survive. Often dethatching at the wrong time results in a thinner lawn that is more likely to develop weeds.  
    If dethatching is required, it should be done while the lawn is dormant. This means doing it in the late fall just before the snow flies or in the small window in the spring between after the snow melts and is dry enough to not get torn up & when the lawn is coming out of dormancy and starting to green up.