Memorial Day “me-do” list for the lawn

With the official start of summer kicking off with Memorial Day weekend (May 22-25), some of you may fear the “Honey Do List” that awaits you this weekend. I’ve always felt the best way to counter a “Honey Do List” is to be proactive and have my own “me-do list” ready and waiting and extending for at least a full page with an over arrow at the bottom. In addition to major projects, such as constructing the newest version of the Alcatraz garden to keep out the deer, rabbits, and every other critters that like to snack on recently planted $10 tomato plants, I have a “me-do list” for the lawn.

1. Mow

Obvious, but let’s not overlook it. With temperatures in the 80’s the last couple days, adequate soil moisture, and recent fertilizer applications keeping up with the 1/3 rule for mowing requires a two-times a week mowing schedule. If you’ve got the van loaded, gassed, and ready to head off for the long weekend, sneak in a quick mowing before departing. If you don’t, there could be some jungle grass waiting for you on Monday evening.

2. Sharpen mower blades

Remember all the times in May you just decided to mow whether it was wet or not? Mowing wet turf tends to dull the blade, so check your blade for dullness and make a trip to the local sharpening guru if necessary.

3. Mower maintenance

When was the last time you changed the oil on your mower? Hopefully, you’re not saying to yourself, that thing uses oil? Basic mower maintenance, including changing the oil will help prolong the life of your mower.

4. Fertilize

The Memorial Day weekend is a good time to apply fertilizer to the lawn. If you fertilized earlier this spring, there’s a good chance the turf has burned through that fertilizer already, and as June approaches sustaining the growth and quality of your lawn will likely rely on another fertilizer application. For this application, look for slow release fertilizer products such as coated ureas, methylene ureas, or natural organics. Avoid single, heavy-dose applications of water-soluble fertilizers such as urea; they’ll give you that quick response, but may result in reduced drought hardiness and increased susceptibility to diseases.

5. Spot treat broadleaf weeds

The tough-to-control perennial broadleaf weeds such as ground ivy, wild violet, and creeping speedwell are flowering in many areas. Hit them with a broadleaf herbicide while they’re flowering, and your results will be better than waiting until the summer.

6. Check the irrigation system

If you have an in-ground irrigation system, now would be a great time to check all the heads to make sure everything is functioning. You may think this was an early spring activity, which it should have been, but many of these systems haven’t had a lot of use this spring, so add it to your list.

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