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What Does Your Northern Lawn Need in March and April?

March 16, 2014

What a winter!   Some cities got over 100 inches of snow!  A good sign that spring weather is around the corner is when you start to ask:  “What do I put on my lawn this spring to improve it?”

First thing is to pick up fallen tree limbs and rake any lawn areas that have a fungus called snow mold. These patches will be white or tan and will have grass blades stuck together in a mat. When you use a leaf rake on these patches, you help to expose the grass plants underneath the matted grass blades to sunlight and air so they can grow.  You can also rake any matted tree leaves so your grass will fill in thin areas faster.

The next step is to figure out what to feed your lawn. You make your choice based on whether you had annual weeds, like crabgrass or foxtail, last summer. If you had these weeds, go with Turf Builder Halts Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food to do two jobs at one time:  feeding and preventing new weeds from seed.  Be sure to water your lawn after you spread this product. The alternative for those lawns with no annual weeds last summer is to feed with Turf Builder Lawn Food.

Crabgrass seedlings about a week after germination.  Crabgrass gets its name because it sprawls from a central root low across the ground. It can become a problem quickly because it is able to grow vigorously in hot, dry conditions choking out your good grass. Before dying in the fall, a single weed can distribute thousands of seeds which will be ready to germinate in spring.

Crabgrass seedlings about a week after germination. Crabgrass gets its name because it sprawls from a central root low across the ground. It can become a problem quickly because it is able to grow vigorously in hot, dry conditions choking out your good grass. Before dying in the fall, a single weed can distribute thousands of seeds which will be ready to germinate in spring.

If your lawn has bare spots, spread Scotts EZ Seed. Remember to NOT spread Turf Builder Halts in areas you plan on seeding.  If you have large areas to seed and you need to prevent crabgrass, you should use Scotts Turf Builder Starter Lawn Food for New Grass Plus Weed Preventer to stop crabgrass without stopping your new grass seed from growing.

One of these feedings will help your lawn recover and fill in after our tough winter.  Your lawn will now be all set until you do your next feeding in about 6 weeks.

For answers to your lawn questions, my friends at the Scotts Help Center can help.

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20 Comments
  1. Joyce permalink

    Hi Ashton,
    This is your new bbf from Southside, VA. I wrote last week asking about whether to seed or feed. I’ve changed my mind and decided I want to seed and have some Heat Tolerant Blue to put down. I also have starter fertilizer with weed control. I had thought I would get this done this coming weekend, as the weather is suppose to be in the 60’s. My concern however, is as I look at the long range forecast, they are calling for some more cold weather next week. Is this the right time to over-seed, or should I wait until it warms up for a longer period of time?
    Thanks for all your help and patience with a beginner such as myself:)

  2. Hi Joyce
    Go for it. The seed will be slower to germinate than in fall because of the cold soil, however it will jump as soon as your soil warms up. The downside to waiting is you may get a string of wet weather that will keep you from getting out on the lawn to do yard work. You may be taking a chance that summer shows up in May, however seeding now is worth the risk in your area. Good Luck!

  3. Tony permalink

    Hi Ashton, I want to put down the crabgrass preventer, however noticed a lot of moss in the backyard what do you advise can I use two products or will the crabgrass preventer fertilizer relive this? I live in RI. Thank you.

    • Hi Tony
      The crabgrass preventer will not take care of your moss this time of year. (If you apply Halts Crabgrass Preventer in Fall, it can reduce the amount of new moss that grows over winter.) Turf Builder with Moss Control could be put down by the end of the month, then you could put down Halts (without the Turf Builder) about a week later. You will not be able to seed this spring if you use Halts.

      • Tony permalink

        Thanks Ashton, I was looking through products online on Scotts website. How do the Moss Granules work? Could this product be used in conjunction with Halts plus Turf Builder?

  4. Hi Tony
    Yes, you can use Moss Control Granules and Turf Builder plus Halts a week apart.

  5. Lindsay. Davy permalink

    Hi I live in New Jersey my lawnis a mess,there are bare spots also weeds however I’m committed to do what it takes to improve my lawns appearance

  6. Brian permalink

    Hi Ashton,

    At what point to we use the halts with feed? I am in NY and tomorrow is still below freezing with possible snow?! This weekend should be nice though. Thoughts on when to apply?

  7. Hi Brian
    In a typical year this would be a good weekend to apply in the areas around Long Island and the city. There is still a few weeks to go upstate. If you get some freezing weather after you apply that is ok. You want to get your Turf Builder with Halts down around the time of your first mowing or when you are seeing yellow blooming forsythia.

  8. Bob A. permalink

    Hi Ashton,
    I’m in Western CT, we still have not warmed up much and my grass is looking very dull. While I’m not concerned about it coming back, I’m wondering when would be the right time to put down Turfbuilder w/Halts this year. Generally I put it down the third week of March, but we still had snow on the ground at that time. I’m aiming for this weekend, but I’m curious if there is any benefit in waiting another week so the sun and temps can have more of an impact on warming the soil. Does this actually matter?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Bob A.
      Although it is ok to have freezing weather after putting down Turf Builder with Halts, you will get the most benefit from the Turf Builder feeding if your grass is starting to grow when you put it down. You could wait until around the time of your first mowing or when you are seeing the yellow blooming forsythia bushes.

  9. Ruthie permalink

    Hi. We planted new grass last year in late summer where we built a new house. We also had a bad winter. Our dirt is mostly clay. My question is should we fertilize the grass to make it come up better or what would be best to put on it? Also a beginner in lawn care. THanks

    • Hi Ruthie
      Assuming your grass started growing last fall and it is thin now, you should feed with Turf Builder with Crabgrass Preventer. This will help to thicken up your grass while preventing annual grassy weeds from germinating this spring (like crabgrass, foxtail, etc.) Let me know where you are located and any other questions and I will be happy to give you more specific suggestions.

  10. Joyce permalink

    Hi Ashton,
    I have a row of forsythia bushes that are 20 yrs old. Up until last Spring they had full, beautiful blooms. Last year I thought maybe it was that I had trimmed them at the wrong time, so I purposely didn’t trim them and yet still no blooms again this year??? I believe they are still very healthy, as they get full and green toward the end of Spring. What could be wrong and what could I possibly do to help with blooms for next Spring.
    Joyce

  11. Hi Joyce
    Not sure if I have the answer for you, however I will make a suggestion. The proper time to prune forsythia is in April/May after blooming. The new growth that follows during summer are the branches where blooms are being set for early spring blooms. It could be that your old forsythia bushes did not put out much new growth last summer. You could prune up to a third of the growth this spring to encourage new growth to provide blooms for next year.

  12. Dave permalink

    Hi Ashton, it’s Dave from northern KY. I want to sliced seed this spring, how will that affect my good grass?

    • Hi Dave from northern Ky… You can operate a slit seeder in your existing lawn without damaging your good grass. If you had crabgrass last year you can use a crabgrass preventer that is compatible with grass seed and is combined with a starter type lawn food.

      • Dave permalink

        When do you think is the best time in the spring to do it?

  13. Hi Dave
    I would say mid to late March in your area. Grass seed will germinate just prior to the time that crabgrass germinates in your area. When I lived in Columbus Oh I had good success seeding in early April.

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