Precipitation in Colorado is often most bountiful in spring. Delaying the start-up of your sprinkler system may save money and help conserve water. Daily watering is only necessary with new seeds or sod to help establish young roots. In all other circumstances, daily watering only encourages shallow root growth and reduces the turf’s drought tolerance. Begin mowing when your lawn reaches 3.5” high. Remember that the ideal turf-lawn height is 2.5” to 3”. To encourage lawn health and strength, try to not remove more than one third of the leaf blade with each mowing. Grass growth is vigorous in early spring, so edge flowerbeds with a sharp trench between bed and turf. If cool-season turf is in poor condition, fertilize at 0.5 – 1 pounds nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
Aeration, or core cultivation, is standard Colorado turf care. Aerating supplies the soil with air, reduces soil compaction, helps to control thatch, and lets water and fertilizer move into the root zone. Turf can be aerated at any time when the ground is not frozen. Spring and fall are considered the best times for aeration. Aeration is most effective when actual cores or plugs of soil are pulled from the lawn. Holes should be two to three inches deep and no more than two to four inches apart. Lawns should be thoroughly watered the day before aerating so that longer plugs can be pulled more easily. To avoid damaging utilities, mark sprinkler heads, shallow irrigation lines, and cable TV lines before aerating. Leave the cores on the lawn to allow them to work back into the grass. Lawns may be fertilized and seeded immediately after aeration. Water the lawn soon after aeration. Heavy traffic areas will require aeration more frequently.
For more information on gardening in Colorado, please visit the CSU Extension website at www.ext.colostate.edu and consult with the lawn and garden Fact Sheets. Additional gardening information can be found at PlantTalk Colorado www.planttalk.org.
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