Dormant Seeding Sooner is Better than Later

The basic rule is simple. Homeowners who put on a sweater today and get their spring lawn projects started now will be months ahead of their neighbors who wait for short sleeve weather.

Grass seed varieties sown in February and March will have a 10-week head start on the weed and insect season, which begins in earnest in mid-May. Bugs and weeds prefer hot weather. Insect eggs hatch, weed seeds sprout, thicken and spread as soil and air temperatures rise.

Thin areas and bare spots will show up quickly as the rest of the lawn begins to turn green in March. Dead crabgrass and foxtail form brown patches and bare spots in the otherwise green turf. Heavily shaded areas, new construction around patios, and driveways, as well as larger open areas, are barren and in danger of erosion. All these areas need prompt attention if they are to be seeded and well-established before hot summer weather arrives.

Many mid-west lawns are hybrid forms of bluegrass and perennial rye grass. These grass varieties prefer cool soil and air temperatures. During cold winter months, their root systems continue to grow. As spring comes, these deep root systems help the grass thicken and send up new plants. Early spring fertilizer helps fill in bare spots before air temperatures increase and weeds become aggressive.

New generations of perennial rye varieties found in Stadium Special perform particularly well in this region. These hybrids sprout quickly in cold soil, can survive hot summer weather and blend well with bluegrass or fescue lawns. For best results in dormant seeding, rake and top dress all bare spots using PrimeraFC or sphagnum peat. But, if soil is too wet or weather does not permit, these seed varieties may be sown directly over the lawn or a light snow cover. The seed itself is large and has a food reserve that allows the grass plant to sprout and survive without ideal soil contact.

Dormant seeded bluegrass varieties found in Blue Wave require more time to germinate than Stadium Special containing hybrid perennial rye varieties. Dormant seeding exposes seed to natural freezing and thawing cycle of early spring. This swelling and drying help crack the outer shell of the seed. Soil temperatures become warm; the bluegrass plant is ready to sprout. Seed sown in this fashion will come up two to three weeks sooner than bluegrass not sown until warm weather arrives. Common bluegrass varieties should be avoided especially in the spring. Hybrid perennial ryes blended with elite bluegrass varieties found in Estate Mix will develop more quickly and are better able to survive the summer heat.

Turf-type fescue does not like cold weather. Fescue lawns often stay a muddy brown even after their bluegrass neighbors have started to show a bright spring green up. Early season dormant seeding with Macho Mix, which includes five percent hybrid perennial rye will have the best results for a drought tolerant fescue lawn. Turf fescue seeded in this fashion sprouts one to two weeks sooner than fescue held until warm weather before sowing.

The biggest enemy of dormant seeded fescue is brown patch disease that comes in May and June. New seedlings are more susceptible to brown patch than older more mature grass plants. Turf-type tall fescue blends such as Heat Wave show excellent resistance to brown patch. Granular Fungus Fighter may also be applied in mid-May to help young plants through this critical period.

A Golf Course Starter fertilizer applied to the new seed in March will encourage the seed to establish quickly. An April application of Tupersan will assist in preventing crabgrass and foxtail in newly planted areas as the grass plants mature. Avoid using broadleaf dandelion weed killers until the new seed has grown enough to have been mowed two times.

Five Fantastic Spring Flowering Bulbs

Zoom! for Bulbs
ZOOM! for Bulbs
Colorful masses of eye-catching spring bulbs are an easy cure for those winter doldrums. Bulbs planted in fall make dazzling beds of bright neon colors blooming from February to May. Now is the time to get to the Grass Pad for the best selection. Dutch bulbs shipped straight from Sassenheim to Grass Pad Warehouses have arrived. Dutch Uncle has been buying bulbs from Holland for over 40 years. Uncle knows a Dutch Deal and these are his picks for the Fantastic Five Spring Flowering Bulbs to plant in the mid-west.

No. 5 Allium - Allium belong to the ornamental onion family. However, these will not be on the dinner plate. These idiot proof bulbs are some of the most distinctive fall planted bulbs adding height and texture to spring gardens. Hardy through most of the mid-west climate, allium tolerate drought and poor soil conditions. Available in a variety of heights, colors, and blooms, allium, with their lollipop look are a fun and whimsical flower to have in the garden.

No 4. Hyacinth - Charming bloom with a fragrance and aroma that will compare to finest French perfumes make hyacinths a Fantastic Spring Flowering Bulb. Hyacinth can be planted by themselves or as a feature in beds mixed with tulips and daffodils. Blooming early to mid-spring. Easily adapting to the mid-west environment, hyacinth has shown to be deer and rodent resistant. A single flower will appear from each bulb along with glossy green leaves. Hyacinth makes an excellent cut flower for color and fragrance. Hyacinth bulbs can be pre-chilled, or forced, for indoor color during winter months.

No. 3 Crocus - The first flowers to sprout from the earth each spring, crocus bring forth hope for the warmer days and bright blooms of spring. Crocus bulbs must be planted during the autumn months to bloom during the spring. A true perennial, they naturalize well, multiply very quickly, can be planted nearly anywhere, and require little care from one year to the next. They also tend to be highly resistant to deer. Crocus will be flowered and gone by the time daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips begin to color – their addition is an excellent way to extend the bloom season in a garden.

No. 2 Daffodils - Daffodils are the idiot proof bulb demanding the least effort for the highest reward. Undoubtedly one of the most recognized flowers, daffodils are extremely hardy and easily naturalize here in the mid-west. Daffodils must be planted in late fall to grow and bloom with their trumpet-shaped flowers, heralding the announcement of the spring. Most often spotted blooming in varieties of yellow, daffodils are available in a few other colors and bi-colored combinations. Inspiring when planted in clusters, daffodils make an excellent cut flower. One bulb can grow many stems and have one bloom on each. Available in various heights, colors and bloom times, daffodil will stay in color for many weeks.
Uncle's tip: Daffodils are one of the few garden flowers resistant to deer and rodents.

No. 1 Tulips - The most fantastic flowering bulb is the tulip. Prized for the flowers, tulips are deeply rooted in the Dutch culture and economy. Stunningly beautiful when clustered into large garden spaces and containers, tulips are the superstar of any flower bed or container. When complimented with crocus, daffodil or hyacinth tulips will make brilliant spring color combinations. The rainbow of colors available in tulips alone is unmatched. A mixture of early, mid and late season bloom times allows tulips to create color beds and containers for an extended period in spring.

See Related: Tulips Not All the Same

All Grass Pad locations have thousands of spring flowering bulbs available in early, mid or late season bloom times, heights and colors. Our warehouses are full of the very best quality bulbs at cheaper than internet prices with no sawdust. Our Dutch Uncle selects only the best for the mid-west. Bring your catalogs and compare.

See Related: Choosing & Planting Fall Bulbs

Tulips Not All the Same

ZOOM! for Bulbs
ZOOM! for Bulbs!
Chosen as the most Fantastic Spring Flowering Bulb tulips continue to be the most popular with our customers. Valued for their flowers, tulips are deeply rooted into the Dutch culture. At one time, the entire Dutch economy was built upon the tulip. Originally from Turkey, tulips were brought to Eastern Europe in the 16th century, and have now become one of the world's most admired flowers.

You might think a tulip is just a tulip, but there are many diverse varieties of tulips available. Each type with its unique characteristics and habits. Here are six of the most popular types of tulips.

Triumph tulips are the most popular of all varieties. With its traditional shape tulip bloom, Triumph tulips are available in almost any color imaginable. Grown on a sturdy stem, Triumph makes an attractive garden flower as well as a fresh cut flower with a very long vase life.

Darwin hybrid tulips have the tallest and largest blooms and make an excellent choice for the home garden. Most Darwin hybrids are early season bloomers. An interesting side note, Darwin blooms have a habit of closing during cooler nights and opening with the warming sun.

Fosteriana tulips, known as Emperor tulips, are an excellent choice to fill your flower beds with a full season of color. With a uniquely shaped wide and long flower, Fosteriana tulips grow medium to tall. Emperor tulips are most impressive when planted in masses.

Greigii tulips bring the most fun to the garden spaces and planters. With variegated stems and shorter in stature, Greigii tulips pop with a massive flower bloom. The striped stems with purple streaks give flower beds and containers a little extra pizazz in early spring. Excellent choice for rock gardens, borders and containers.

Fringed tulips are the “shock and awe” of the tulip garden. One look at these distinctively shaped blooms and folks will be turning their heads. For an extended bloom life, plant fringed tulips in protected or covered areas. The flowers tend to hold water inside the petal and can shorten the bloom time.

Parrot Tulips have a ruffled and feather like texture resembling the wings of a parrot. Parrot tulips are the most outrageous of all tulip varieties. Most Parrot tulips are late season bloomers. The blooms tend to open with more sunlight and sometimes change colors as the flower matures. Their unique flower shape can make them susceptible to the wind and heavy rain damage, so it is best to plant in a protected area.

See Related: Choosing &Planting Fall Bulbs

Renovation Revelations

Measure the size of your lawn. An accurate measurement is important for calculating the right amount of grass seed and Renovator fertilizer. Simple way to measure is to walk the perimeter counting your steps, an average pace is about 3 feet. Multiply length x width and write it down.

Choose the right seed for your conditions. Here are some questions that might help. What matters most to you about your lawn? What type of performance do you expect from your grass seed? Do you wan the heat and drought tolerance of Macho Mix or would you prefer the golf course look and wear tolerance of Estate Mix? Is your lawn shaded or full sun? Do you have play areas for kids or big dogs? Our turf experts can guide you to the right seed for the right place.

Watch the calendar! Timing is everything and the earlier the better for root development to ensure winter survival. Grass seed sown in September will germinate quicker than grass seed sown in April. Warm soils, short days, cool nights and the welcome rains of September promise lower water bills for fall renovation.

Mow or Let it Go? Six Tips on Mowing During the Rainy Season

 Learn More about Blue Wave Bluegrass

The cool spring season with plenty of rain and Uncle's Idiot Proof Program have Blue Wave bluegrass and Heat Wave fescue lawns growing like crazy. It's easy to fall behind on mowing schedules when it's raining every day. When the grass is wet and the soil is saturated, should you mow or just let it go? 

1. Be Patient
Excess water in the soil essentially pushes oxygen out of the soil. Without oxygen plant growth will stop until oxygen can be replaced. Be patient with an extremely soggy lawn and give the wettest areas a little time to drain and grass blades time to dry before mowing. Use your best judgement, you know the spots that hold water and those that drain well. A sunny south or west facing yard may need only one good afternoon to dry out and an east or north protected area may take a few days. 
Wet soil is easily compacted. Mowing or even walking over saturated soil can cause compaction problems making it difficult for grass to grow.

2. Use a Sharp Blade
When it does dry out enough to mow, we cannot stress how important it is to use a sharp blade on your mower. Sharp mower blades make mowing so much easier. They give a better-looking finish cut and cause less stress on the grass plant.
Keep two and swap them out every 8 to 10 hours.

3. Don't Cut More Than 1/3
If you fall behind on mowing and the grass gets too tall, on your initial cut, raise the mower deck two notches, then wait a few days and cut it again at one notch lower. Wait a few more days, then cut at your original setting. Removing too much leaf can stress the plant and turn it yellow.
Once you're back to a regular schedule, set your height and leave it. Cutting at 3.5 - 4 inches will shade the soil keeping the roots cool in summer and help fight weed pressure.

4. Don't Leave Heavy Clippings
We all prefer to mulch mow. Mulch mowing is easier and beneficial, but at certain times bagging your grass clippings is a necessity. Cutting an overgrown lawn is one of those times. Heavy clippings left over the top will smother and yellow the grass plant. If you don't have a bagging mower, then do it the old fashion way and rake up the clippings.

5. Clean the Mower
Cleaning is a must if you want to keep Mama happy. Store a wet mower in the garage without cleaning the deck and in two days your garage will smell like a compost pile. Eventually, you will need to clean the deck, and it's a lot easier to clean before the grass mulch dries into a brick. Take the mower to an out of the way spot in the lawn, tilt it back and wash it out with the garden hose. Some of the new models have a hose attachment on the mower deck for clean out. Remember to remove the heavy clippings from the lawn to avoid smothering your grass.
Avoid washing it out on the driveway to keep grass clippings out of the storm drains.

 Clink on Image
6. PREVENT!  Booster Shot
Excessive rainfall will break down the weed barrier created by PREVENT! Step #1, leading to crabgrass breakthrough by fall. A second application of PREVENT!, crabgrass pre-emergence plus fertilizer, extends crabgrass control through the summer and gives a booster shot of nitrogen that has been leached from the soil by heavy rainfall.