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  Saturday October 25th, 2014    

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First lawn mowing also good time to fertilize (04/25/2007)
By Bob Mugaas

Horticulturist

U of M Extension

The first time you mow your lawn this spring is also a good time to apply fertilizer. Most lawn fertilizer recommendations are based on the amount of nitrogen applied to the lawn. This is usually about one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per application.

Remember, by state law you can't apply any fertilizer containing phosphorus unless a soil test determines you need it, or if you're establishing a new lawn. On a fertilizer bag, look for a "zero" as the second number as you read from left to right (24-0-18, 12-0-12, etc.). Nitrogen is the first number, phosphorus the middle, and potassium the last, on the right.

Since our lawn grasses have a natural flush of growth in the spring, you don't need lots of extra nitrogen to encourage growth. In fact, too much nitrogen in the spring will hurt your lawn later in the growing season

And if you applied nitrogen late last fall, a spring application of nitrogen fertilizer may not be necessary. Lower maintenance areas with primarily fine fescue grasses perform better with less nitrogen.

Do your first mowing when the initial spring grass growth is about three inches tall; cutting it back to about 2 inches. After the first cutting or two, raise the mower so your finished height of cut is somewhere between 2.5 and 3 inches. This will encourage slightly deeper rooting and help improve stress tolerance going into the warmer, drier times of the year.

You can usually leave grass clippings on the lawn " this provides the equivalent of one fertilizer application per year. If the grass is very long (two to three times the desired height of cut) before the first mowing, it is best to gradually reduce the height of cut rather than cutting it all at one mowing. That will reduce the mess of clippings on the lawn surface that you'd need to pick up, and create less stress for the grass plant.

 

 

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