Part 3: Spring Lawn Care Tips

With your lawn well on its way to being the showcase of the street or country lane, now it’s time to turn your attention to controlling weeds and garden pests. You’ll want to focus on eliminating dandelions and crabgrass from the lawn, and rid edges, gravel areas, sidewalks and paved or concrete drives of invasive weeds.

Spring is a good time to apply a weed control to squelch unwanted dandelions; you can do this as you apply fertilizer to the lawn. Using a product which contains corn gluten is an environmentally friendly approach. Such a product will not kill existing dandelions, but it prevents new ones from germinating. Apply the gluten-based weed control and use a dandelion fork to yank out existing weeds. Pretty soon you’ll have a dandelion-free lawn without the use of harsh chemicals. And a tip – It’s easier to pull any sort of weeds after you’ve watered the lawn or had a soaking rain.

For weeds growing in cracks in the sidewalk or driveway, or in graveled areas, consider a propane-fueled lawn torch. This simple handheld torch can be used while standing upright and is fueled by inexpensive propane canisters, the type used with modern camp cookstoves. Most torches come with a built-in ignitor, and once lit it’s a simple matter of walking where the weeds are growing and aiming the flame directly onto the invading plants. Hold the flame on the plant until it wilts and blackens.

There’s one more thing to discuss besides too much water, not enough water, weeds and fungus: pests. For the lawn that usually means moles. There are two ways to handle them – repel or kill. The burrowing rodents have a dislike for vibrations. Installing a mole windmill as a decorative piece in the lawn will help deter the diggers who tear up the terra firma, can potentially kill grass by eating roots, and eat earthworms that are beneficial for topsoil. A wind-driven, vibrating windmill will send moles scurrying for peace and quiet elsewhere.

Mole Chaser

Wind-powered Mole Chaser covers 10,000 square feet.

The other option is to kill the moles. Mole traps are placed atop an existing run and trigger when the mole passes by, driving spikes into the unsuspecting animal. This is by far the easiest, least expensive method. Traps are relatively inexpensive and can be used for years. Garden centers also sell poisoned gel “worms”, which resemble the sugary candy gummy worms that children enjoy eating, but these worms are deadly to moles. A few worms are placed directly into an existing mole run and pretty soon the mole dies from ingesting the poison. The gel poison also comes as a paste in a syringe and can be shot directly into a run. The downside to using gel is the potential for small children or pets may ingest some of the harmful worms or paste. Using traps eliminates this danger, and may be a good choice for households with small children and pets.

If your yard is like mine it has several flower beds, ornamental trees and shrubs. For these plants the dangerous pests can be any of a long list – aphids, several varieties of beetles, bag worms, cutworms, caterpillars, leafhoppers, spider mites, hornworms and more. A good all-purpose treatment is a yard and lawn spray which includes insecticidal soap and pyrethrins that kill a wide range of insects on contact – and don’t harm the plants. These sprays can be used any time of the year, but be alert and attack back when you notice the first bugs of the growing season.

A nice lawn is a labor of love by a property owner three seasons a year. Taking a proactive approach in spring can make the rest of the work less taxing and the finished product much more enjoyable all the way through to fall. I hope I’ve provided a good primer in spring lawn care, but if you’re a detail person who likes to have reference materials on hand consider purchasing a good organic lawn care manual. It serves as a step-by-step guide and quick reference all in one. Such knowledge can be every bit as beneficial as fertilizer or a good mower.

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About doug smith

Doug Smith is a small town newspaper managing editor. He has also been a freelance writer for rural living, country life, tourism, and hunting and fishing publications for the past 12 years. He lives in an 1880s Victorian-style home in the Missouri Ozarks. He drives an old pickup truck, tinkers with old tractors, is married to a young woman, they have two beautiful and successful children, and he can be found any given day around town wearing his Buffalo plaid flannel jacket and matching Elmer Fudd hat.

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