Winter is finally releasing its grip, so lawns will be greening up and growing. It will soon be time for one of the most basic homeowner rituals: mowing the lawn.
Getting ready for lawn-mowing season means more than just filling the mower with fuel and starting it up. To keep your lawn in good shape, your mower needs to be ready and you need to get a head start on controlling weeds.
"Check the (mower) air filter to make sure it's not plugged up. You may want to change the spark plug," said Brad Fresenburg, assistant professor of plant sciences for University of Missouri Extension. "More importantly, make sure that mower blade is sharp, and you'll need to check that on a regular basis throughout the summer."
Mower tuneup is important, but this is also the time for preventing crabgrass.
"Folks should consider whether they want to add a pre-emergence herbicide for crabgrass prevention. Time for application is right around the corner as long as we continue to see warmer temperatures," Fresenburg said.
Don't make the mistake of confusing crabgrass prevention with applying "weed and feed" products.
Many people assume that a "weed and feed" will control all weeds, but that's not necessarily the case. "The 'weed and feed' products control broadleaf weeds, like dandelions," Fresenburg said. "The crabgrass preventers are targeted toward annual grasses, like crabgrass."
Some of the crabgrass preventers will also control a few of our annual broadleaf weeds, Fresenburg said, so they tend to be more inclusive than the "weed and feed" products. Effectiveness and control vary from product to product, so it's essential that homeowners read the labels.