Maintaining a healthy lawn involves using good maintenance practices throughout the growing season. Proper mowing, fertilizing, irrigation and thatch control provide a dense, healthy, high-quality lawn.
Mother nature does most of the work for us this time of year. If you had a late (October-November) fertilizer, the stored up sugars will flow to the shoots to give them a boost and greening up. You do not need to fertilize again until May 24 weekend give or take a week. Yes, I know Canadian Tire and all the nurseries and Scotts are telling us to spread fertilizer on our lawns as early as April. Unfortunately, they are wrong. In fact they are going against science. Want the truth? Click here (goes to OMAFRA’s site about spring fertilizing.
OK now that you know the truth, let me tell you what is best for your lawn this Spring. It never hurts to aerate but I think it may be over rated. Aeration is supposed to break up well trampled packed down soil, allowing water and nutrients to get to the roots. Well, unless you own a golf course or have every neighbourhood kid running over your lawn, you may not need one.
April is a great month to put down seed in areas where the lawn is thin or weedy. The best way to do this is to score or scratch up the top soil and broadcast about 8lbs per 1,000 sq. ft. I use a neat little machine that scores the topsoil making tracks about a 1/4 t o1/2 inch deep. I then broadcast the seed which finds thier way into the grooves. The germination rate is very high and I have made many beautiful lawns starting from nothing doing this just once in a season. There is usually a steady flow of rain in April and the seed must be kept moist until germination. You may have to lug out the sprinkler if the rain is sparse. In about three weeks you will see a marked improvement in the thickness of your lawn.
Topdressing is another cultural practice and April is a good month for that too. Just spread some topsoil or triple mix a quarter to half inch over the entire lawn. This is somewhat laborious and yo need your young people in the house to do this for you! A dry topsoil can be applied with a spreader but its very expensive to apply the right amount (not the flimsy sprinkling the manufacturer tells you). If you do spread dirt, make sure you add some seed to that as well. This process will help smooth out the lawn- no need to roll your lawn(it only compacts the soil thereby causing the roots to suffer). By the way, if aerations are your thing, ask for an over-seeding too. May as well add it whenever the germination rate is high- the seeds that fall in the holes will be sure to germinate as they stay quite moist in that environment. A sprinkling of water may be required if there is no rain.
Remember! Do not fertilize this month. You will have lush growth, yes but at the expense of lower root development. Deep roots, healthier grass!
May: As I said above, there is no need to put down fertilizer until around the third week or so in May. By this time the roots have well established themselves, the grass has been growing quite rapidly and now the soil may need some replenishment to keep the roots happy through the next two months.