Patching up lawns

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.    

Now that the grass is finally turning green and starting to grow, we’re seeing what is alive and what is dead. This last winter was definitely full of plenty of snow and no doubt you’ve probably noticed some snow mold damaged areas throughout the turf landscape. In most cases, the snow mold has probably not killed the turf but has simply killed all of the leaf tissue. I’ll give you the classic two-option scenario for dealing with snow mold. The first option is to use a leaf rake to remove the dead leaf tissue and open up the canopy to allow the new growth to sprout through. The second option is to go back inside and sit down and let the grass poke through on its own. Option one will probably get the grass back growing a little quicker and will help you knock off the rust from your raking tools.

Early reports say this could be a nasty spring for European chafer grub damage as I received a report from the Flint area of grub feeding as early as late March. The recommendation is to wait one week after applying a grub insecticide before reseeding the area, otherwise the seed will be a nice snack for those grubs.

It is perfectly safe to apply fertilizer at the time of seeding. A starter fertilizer typically has a nitrogen to phosphate ratio of 1:1 or 1:1.5. A starter fertilizer application at seeding will prove beneficial in getting the young seedlings going. Typical application rates for a starter fertilizer at seeding are 1 lb. N/1000 sq. ft. Make sure to keep the seeded area moist throughout establishment. In many cases, this may require watering several times a day. A good mulch cover will help the area stay moist so the site may be watered less frequently. Water lightly when irrigating, there is no need to see water standing or running off the site.

If you’re reseeding turf areas, make sure to avoid applying herbicides this spring, i.e. no fertilizer + crabgrass preventer or weed and feed products. Young seedlings don’t tolerate herbicides very well, and the guideline is usually to wait three "real" mowings before applying any herbicides or in some cases at least 60 days. By "real" mowings, I mean you’re actually cutting significant grass, not just running over the area to trim down any weeds.

Preemergence crabgrass herbicide timing

Currently, most of the southern Lower Peninsula of Michigan is at the optimum time for making a preemergence herbicide application to prevent crabgrass. Check out for daily updates on timing applications.

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