The start of summer

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.

Although the official start of summer is still several weeks away, with the Memorial Day weekend upon us and gas prices at $4, many folks may be spending some time around the home this weekend and that ultimately leads to some strolls around the lawn. The cool weather in May and the scant rainfall have resulted in a rather odd occurrence this year. The twice a week mowing frequency that has often been common during the spring growth flush has largely been absent this year. In some areas of my lawn, I’ve even been able to stretch the mowing frequency to about two weeks, of course I was having trouble finding my little Yorky in the yard at that point, but I did save some money on gas for the mower.

Memorial Day fertilization

The Memorial Day weekend is a good time to make a fertilizer application prior to the ramp up of summer temperatures. If you haven’t applied a fertilizer yet this spring or maybe applied fertilizer in mid-April and want to sustain the color and quality of your turf throughout the summer, the application of a slow release fertilizer in the next week is advisable. An application of a slow release fertilizer would provide a gradual feeding of the turf over the summer months. There is a diversity of products available including natural organic sources and polymer or sulfur coated urea products. I would avoid using the fast release products, such as urea, because it can result in a rapid flush of growth, and the plant will probably use most of the nitrogen applied in about a couple weeks. Don’t forget to fertilize those newly seeded areas as the young seedlings are just starting, but remember to avoid any fertilizer and herbicide combination products. Wait until that new seeding has been mowed several times before considering any herbicide treatments.

As always remember to avoid spreading any fertilizer particles on impervious surfaces, such as driveways or sidewalks. If particles do land on the driveway, make sure to sweep them back into the turf in order to avoid washing the particles into the gutter, which ultimately may lead to a lake or stream.

Winter annual weeds say goodbye

With the warmer temperatures on the way, you can wave goodbye to many of the winter annuals that have had a really nice roll this spring. Among others, some of the winter annuals that’ll be leaving us until this fall are Sherpherd’s purse, corn speedwell and yellow rocket. Winter annuals complete their lifecycle in the spring after flowering and producing seed. There’s really no reason to apply an herbicide now to control these weeds. The optimal time to treat these weeds is in the fall.

If you’re interested in seeing what weeds are flowering in your area of Michigan right now, log on to and punch in your zip code. I think I observed my first patch of yellow hawkweed flowering on the way into work this week. Yellow hawkweed looks very similar to dandelion, but usually flowers a little bit after the dandelions are done with their yellow landscape covering display. Yellow hawkweed seems common in country lawns which are often defined by low fertility levels.

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