When the rain decides to stop, we will all be out mowing our lawns. There isn’t anything like the smell of freshly cut grass on a spring day especially if it is the first couple of times that we are able to get out and mow. Lawn care is getting a lot of press these days because our lawns are not the most sustainable pieces that we include on our properties. There is a call out for allowing certain plants to be left alone in our lawns so we can produce a bee friendly or a pollinator friendly lawn. And even though our lawns are not the most sustainable pieces of our gardens, they do provide certain environmental benefits just as they are which include: some erosion control, reducing noise, visual appeal and they can also help keep our homes somewhat cooler.
We can help our lawns be the best that it can be by knowing when we need to do certain things for our lawn. A calendar always helps us as a reminder when to do certain things and the U of M has a lawn calendar available at https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/lawn-care-calendar. An example of what is on the calendar is crabgrass control. For gardeners in southwest Minnesota, now is the time through mid-May to place crabgrass control or preventer on our lawns. You might be surprised at the timing that is recommended for such other things as dethatching or fertilizing. It is not the springtime but rather late summer and into the early fall months. It is OK to do these things in the springtime but the better time is in late summer.
Bee or pollinator friendly lawns are becoming more and more popular. If you control every single weed that is in a lawn, there will be no food source for bees and other pollinators over a wide area of ground. We can always leave areas for the bees and pollinators — say a backyard that no one else sees or maybe that one patch where the kids play a lot. It will give you an excuse anyway, why the grass would look different in just that area. Creeping Charlie and dandelions can be controlled and I think in my lawn that is just what I am doing. I have Creeping Charlie and dandelions both but I just make sure that I keep it under control. Creeping Charlie actually pulls out quite easily and it does not grow back. It is kind of a wimpy plant for a plant that likes to take over everything. Dandelions can be removed using a dandelion fork instead of using chemicals too.
Once you have decided what you would like to do with your lawn, then you can start planning on how to maintain it. The U of M calendar can help with keeping gardeners on task. There is a second great website from the U of M located at https://extension.umn.edu/lawns-and-landscapes/lawn-care#maintaining-your-yard-and-lawn-1759561 which will give you tips on keeping your lawn looking its best. Generally speaking, at this time of the year, there are many of us who are spending some time repairing parts of our lawns. Now is the time to do this before the weather changes and it starts to get hot. Grass seed germinates best in this wet, cool weather. If the rain doesn’t come, then gardeners will have to break out the hoses and make sure to keep the grass seed and seedlings wet for a few weeks to get them going.
And one last final note for gardeners who do have chemicals that are either spread or sprayed on lawns; please do not use the grass clippings for mulch either in your perennial beds or vegetable beds. The chemicals will leach out into your garden and may cause some plants to become weak or to die. If you want to compost them, you will have to set up a separate compost pile for grass clippings that have been treated with chemicals. It will take a year for the clippings to be safe enough to place on a garden. You can always let the grass clippings lay on the lawn and the lawn will use it the clippings for nutrients. If you are not treating your lawn, you can use them for mulch or place the clippings into the compost pile that you may already have set up.
For more information on becoming a Master Gardener or if you have questions on gardening, you can email me at email@example.com