Paris and Henry County's Oldest Landscape Design/Build & Maintenance Company
Even though it's still winter time, it is getting closer to the time to get ready to get busy! In our area of the US, (North West Tennessee) on Ky. Lake, we usually start getting cabin fever around this time. The first week or two of Feb will usually bring a few days where the temperatures get up into the 60's. This brings everyone outside to start taking measure of what will need to be done to start bringing the Lawn and Landscape back to life.
One of the most important things is to get all the leaves up. Either rake them, mow and vacuum them or blow them off. It doesn't matter how you get rid of them, just get them off the lawn. If leaves stay on the grass for a few weeks and get thick enough to totally block out the light, they will kill the grass.
We have had several customers over the years that hired us to seed the lawn in the fall, we get them a great stand of grass, and in Oct. the last time I see the property the grass looks great, then in spring they get the leaves up and there is no grass under them.
We leave explicit instructions with everyone on how to take care of a new lawn after we seed, sod or sprig it, some people just don't follow directions and wind up with a bare lawn. So, this is what can happen if you don't get the leaves up off the lawn.
It is better to mow and mulch them a little bit at a time through the fall and winter than to come in all at once and try to mulch them when they are thick. This leaves too much leaf material on the ground and this material itself can smother the grass. If you see your is going to have so much leaf material that it will cover the grass, then you will need to remove the leaves.
So just understand that if you have a deep cover of leaves that you left out over the winter, you may want to look at our page on reseeding Reseeding A Lawn
If you do have a lot of leaves on the lawn your Ph will be going to the acid side which means you will need lime. Fall and Spring are the best times to apply lime but you can put it down any time of the year.
I like to use the Dolomitic lime, or Pelletized lime, as some call it. It is a brown colored granule and flows out of a fertilizer spreader easier than the old fashioned white powdery ag lime. That stuff will stop up a spreader, its hard to get it out, and it coats every thing with a white powder, including you when spreading it, so use the granules.
If you have a pretty thick cover of trees that are putting down a lot of leaves each year, and you are mulching them, you will need a minimum of one 40# bag of lime per thousand square feet of lawn area. If you have moss growing on the surface you will need two bags per K.
Usually, the lawn is in such an acidic state if it hasn't had regular lime applications that it will need lime, but if you want you can have a soil test done. But let me just say, If you have a bunch of trees.....You need lime! Also if you happen to be in an area like we are in Northwest Tennessee, that has an abundance of rocks and clay soil, you will need lime.
Also, mulching the leaves leads to another problem, loss of nitrogen from the soil. The leaves are a high carbon material which requires a lot of nitrogen to break them down and decompose, so along with the lime applications a dose of 15-15-15 will go a long way towards keeping the lawn looking good. 6 # of this per K sq. ft. is the usual rate if you are putting down 1# of N -P - K per thousand sq. ft. of lawn area.
You can also put down a pre-emergent herbicide for your lawn, that will prevent crabgrass and kill broadleaf weeds that are up now, and a similar pre-emergent herbicide for your landscape beds. They are very similar and many times the exact same chemical can be used on both. Just read the label for any chemical you use to be sure you're using them correctly. The Label, is the Law!