Spring Lawn Preparation
People who live in northern new Mexico are in that zone where both cool and warm season grasses do best for the climate. Simply, cool season grasses grow best during the cooler months while warm season grasses flourish during the warmer months. Whatever type of grass is in a lawn in northern New Mexico, there are things the owner needs to do to prepare it for the warmer weather.
If there are still leaves on the grass, rake them away gently. Raking too vigorously can damage the new grass. Another part of spring lawn care is to sow grass seed in places where the grass is thin. Add a little more than it says on the bag to compensate for those seeds that won’t germinate. Make sure that the seeds don’t dry out by covering them with mulch and keeping the soil moist.
Now is the time to take out the lawn mower if it has been maintained over the winter. If it hasn’t, it should be checked before it is used. The blade should be sharp and balanced, the oil and gas should be fresh, the spark plug should work. Before mowing, raise the height of the blade to three inches, and be careful not to cut the grass too low, even if it is a bit lush. Cutting more than 1/3 of the blade is traumatic for grass, especially if it’s just waking up from the winter. Taller grass also shades out weeds and has a deeper root system. Leave the grass clippings where they fell on the lawn to add nutrients to the soil.
How much to fertilize a lawn or whether to fertilize it at all this early in the season depends on what kind of grass it is. Kentucky bluegrass, which is a good grass for northern New Mexico, is a moderate to high feeder that needs about 3 to 5 pounds of fertilizer per 1000 square feet per year. On the other hand, fine fescue is a low feeder, and Buffalo grass is lower still. This grass needs less than 2 pounds of fertilizer per 1000 square feet per year.
If the grass is a heavy feeder, spring is the best time for its first feeding. It is best done after the grass is watered or after a good rainfall. After the fertilizer is applied, turn on the sprinkler system to make sure that all the fertilizer that landed on the grass blades is washed off into the soil.
How much to water is another vexing aspect of spring lawn care. Like fertilizing, watering depends largely on the type of grass, but the average amount for a healthy lawn is about one to two inches of water, plus rain, every week. In other words, watering should be deep and infrequent. This is because the grass, like most plants, needs to suffer a bit to be its best. Deep watering forces the roots to go down into the soil in their search for water. Roots that are deep protect the grass from drought because they’ve accessed the cooler parts of the soil.
Spring is a fun time to start gardening! Check out our guide to help you get “growing”!