By TIM HORAN
It may not seem like spring in Abilene, but it officially arrived Wednesday.
That means the grass will start growing soon.
If the snow’s not flying, now is a good time to give the lawn its first cut, said James Stout of Stout’s Lawn Service.
“I would be getting the lawn cleaned up, your leaves out of your landscaping,” Stout said about lawn care this time of year. “When the grass starts greening up it wouldn’t hurt to cut it a little shorter than normal the first time. But don’t scalp it. As summer heats up, raise the cutting height higher so the grass can handle the heat a little better.”
He said Kansas lawns need three things in the spring: broadleaf control, crabgrass pre-emergent and fertilizer.
“You should put pre-emergent on about the time the Red Buds come in bloom,” he said. “Fertilize by May.”
One of the most popular crabgrass controllers is a product called Dimension.
“That’s what we use,” he said. “You can put it on a little bit later but you can’t wait too much longer. You can control young crabgrass with Dimension if it’s a little bit late. It won’t kill a mature crabgrass plant. It will get seedlings.”
But first, Stout said to take care of broadleaf weeds.
“That will be the first thing that people will see,” said.
He said the purple flower, henbit, is common early.
“You’ll see more of that in the buffalo grass, Bermuda and zoysia grasses simply because they don’t stay green in the fall,” he said. “Henbit is pretty difficult to kill.
“The same type of broadleaf killer that will kill most of your dandelions and clover and things like that will help control henbit. But it’s not as easy to do.
“Broadleaf weeds are going to be the first thing that people are going to see and want to get rid of whether it be henbit or wild onion, but mostly dandelions. They are going to be the first wave of eyesores for the lawns,” Stout said.
He said after treating for broadleaf weeds the pre-emergent can be applied shortly after.
“If you are a do-it-yourselfer, it’s hard to get a product that will do both of those things at once so you will have to spread them out,” he said. “If you are hiring a lawn company to do it, they will typically mix those and hit it with one or two applications.”
As the City of Abilene prepares for a dry summer and a potential water emergency, Stout said there are steps to water the lawn less.
“When the temperatures start getting hotter, be sure to raise your cutting heights,” Stout said. “That will be one of the big things. If there is a restriction in place, water heavily a little less frequently and try to water early in the morning. People with watering systems can a lot of times be more efficient with their water. They can set them to water in the wee hours of the morning and get the entire lawn watered in time before the evaporation.
“People who are doing it themselves after work are wasting more water due to evaporation,” he added.
And water in the morning.
“When it does get real warm, you’ll see disease if the grass is wet when it gets dark at night,” Stout said. “If you water late at night it is still wet until dark and then dew forms. The grass just stays wet too long and you end up getting brown patch or dollar spot or some type of fungus that can get expensive to try to remedy.
“Water in the morning and the earlier the better. A lot of restrictions they have put in place go along with that. They don’t want you watering after lunchtime, noon to seven. Even after seven is a scary time, especially when it is pretty warm.”
And he added, “Pray for rain.”