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View Full Version : Your early season green up tricks.


GreenUtah
04-02-2010, 06:13 PM
Many of you living in the snow belts will encounter dormant grass that takes it's sweet time coming around to a ready to mow (and earn) state. What are some of your favorite methods for "waking it up" early? Aeration, early fert, waterings, composting, plastic?? Tell us what is working for you and why you chose it (ex. manipulating soil temp)

WHIPPLE5.7
04-02-2010, 07:02 PM
I pile leaves over top of my grass all winter and it never freezes to the extent that it would without them and then I water really heavy in Mid March. I start mowing atleast 2 weeks before my neighbors.

FYS777
04-02-2010, 07:19 PM
nothing you can really do here, we have had 6 months of winter, first snow came in Oct, we keep getting snow like this morning, freezing hard at night, maybe thaws out around noon. really nothing i know off that counteracts frozen ground, but i could be wrong.

GreenUtah
04-02-2010, 08:15 PM
ok, so I'll share some of the ideas that have presented themselves over the years.

Aeration - Theory: Air temp rises quicker than soil. Holes allow air circulation to warm the soil quicker, especially on clay. Problem: heat is rising, cold air drops, so are you actually cooling the turf? Side bonus: cores laying on the surface with their soil exposed DO take solar heating, especially on darker soils and release it back slowly. Not a huge difference, but may help.

Watering - Not because the plants need it, but because most water sources will be 5-10 degrees warmer than the soil, becoming an effective way to penetrate the soil and release heat as the temps equal out. Problem - tremendous waste of water.

Early fert - Not that the plants themselves can do anything with it until soil temps rise enough to start the process, BUT may have a thermal reaction much like ureas used in ice melt. Theory, but one to think about. Of course, too carried away with the fert and dormancy is not going to be your big problem!

light compost topdressing - Idea: solar gain plus possible heat generation from compost breakdown.

Mowing - cutting shorter not only help gets some of the layed over turf and thatch, but should expose the ground to more direct solar gain. Plus, have heard it theorized that it can "shock" a lawn out of dormancy as the plants attempt to heal the cut.

Plastic - Again, the idea is solar heating. Downside: that's a lot of plastic for anything but the smallest of lawns and seems very wasteful or a pain to store for each year. Add to it that strong sunlight and a quick rise in temps could equal soil sterilization in temps much lower than you'd think! Should be careful with this one for sure!

A few ideas to get the ball rolling....

RigglePLC
04-02-2010, 08:18 PM
I suggest a good watering. If your well water is 55 degress this may help slightly. I never tried it myself, but black plastic during a sunny day might help..or maybe half days so you get enough sun for photosynthesis follow up with an insulated solar pool blanket during the cold nights. Try to thaw the soil and get it up to 45 temp.

The athletic field people will probably have a good suggestion or two. I am mystified at how they get the major league fields so green in April.

ProSeasons
04-02-2010, 10:32 PM
I core aerate and apply a Pre Em with a N value of at least 40.

Dang grass seems to leap out of the ground.

lukemelo216
04-02-2010, 11:47 PM
I like to power rake my yards. It really greens them up quick. This is not a dethatch by any means. Simply a power rake taking very little off the top, but the lawns I do are much greener a day or two later than the ones that havent been power raked.

grass4gas
04-03-2010, 06:29 AM
I suggest a good watering. If your well water is 55 degress this may help slightly. I never tried it myself, but black plastic during a sunny day might help..or maybe half days so you get enough sun for photosynthesis follow up with an insulated solar pool blanket during the cold nights. Try to thaw the soil and get it up to 45 temp.

The athletic field people will probably have a good suggestion or two. I am mystified at how they get the major league fields so green in April.

Most of the professional teams yards have heating elements buried to allow the warm water to keep the soil temps up, especially NFL teams.

GreenUtah
04-06-2010, 07:18 PM
Some might suggest that soil with higher organic volumes stay insulated better by trapping air pockets at the root level.

Soil temp manipulation in many forms so far...other ideas?

Runner
04-06-2010, 10:34 PM
From the lawn CARE aspect, I recommend that the customers mow their lawns down real low at the end of fall (lowering in increments during the weeks prior). this helps warm soil temps up sooner, and also lets photosynthesis work sooner as the grass is more open to sunlight. from the lawn MAINTENANCE aspect, for our mowing customers, while mowing lower in the fall, we don't mow the grass real short. We save that for the early spring and go in and cut it down low - just as it starts to get a tinge of green over it. Then it just transforms quickly. Much because we're cutting all the dead stuff off the top, and much because the grass is getting picked up straight (many times combed our with the JRCO dethatching rake) and allowing the sunlight to better reach all the plant.

cgaengineer
04-07-2010, 06:54 AM
Around here where bermuda lawns are the norm we scalp them. My lawn is almost all green and my neighbors lawns are still brown and dormant. I scalp with a 30" reel mower on my own lawn, but use my rotary on my customers lawns but I am not able to cut quite as low.

I also limit any chemical applications during the transition from dormancy to greenup.

I did a composted cow manure topdress last season on my own lawn which seemed to help, but I cannot verify, it surely helped the soil structure.