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Pre-Spring Lawn Care

Get an early start that will carry through warmer weather.

Posted: March 3, 2008 7:14 p.m.
Updated: May 2, 2008 5:02 a.m.
The start of the spring season may be less than a month away, but homeowners of the Santa Clarita Valley can take advantage of the latest round of abundant sunshine to tune up their lawns and gardens.

The recent rains and cool days make now a top time to fertilize the lawn, according to Richard Green, owner of Green Landscape Nursery in Valencia. With the increase in daylight, Green said plants are awakening and will be developing new leaves in the coming months. By properly fertilizing now, plants are able to build up a defense and are less likely to have pest and fungus problems later on.

With so many fertilizers on the market, finding the best formula can be a confusing task. However, Green, a nurseryman with decades of experience in the Santa Clarita Valley, recommends homeowners use organic fertilizers. He considers an organic blend to be a better choice because these provide a constant supply of nutrition to the grass.

"It's like giving an IV," he said, about applying organic fertilizers to a yard. "Never hungry, never full."
One drawback Green sees with organics is that they only work when the soil is warm. The advantages, however, are plentiful. Along with the benefits for the environment, "You can't burn plants and lawns with organics," he said.

Additionally, non-organic blends of fertilizers are becoming more expensive as fuel prices rise. As a result, the once-expensive and luxurious organic fertilizers are about relatively equal in cost and carry a $20 price tag.

Weed and Feed
Green also considers the beginning of March to be the "prime time" to weed and feed lawns.

Essentially, the weed and feed products, which are designed and utilized on lawns and generally cost $20 per bag, will take care of unwanted types of grass and weeds, including dandelions, milk weed, clovers and anything else with "little fat leaves," Green explains.

As for the timing of the attack, Green said the current time of year is when the younger weeds are growing and developing their roots. The right weed and feed can immediately eliminate those delicate-skinned weeds before they really become a nuisance.

But battling Bermuda grass, a rough and tough-to-get-rid-of weed, is a different story.
Until the April to October time period, Green said Bermuda grass, also known as devil grass because of its resistance to being killed, is dormant.

As a result, the "big ugly bear in hibernation" will not accept any types of poisons. Green suggests homeowners trying to battle Bermuda grass to wait until the grass becomes green, signaling that it has come out of dormancy and can react to poisons.

Regardless of the weed and feed options sold at nurseries, Green reminds homeowners that they should not use a weed and feed product unless it is needed.

Aside from the common weed and feeds, Green said there are also formulas designed to prevent weeds from growing, allowing local residents to take a proactive approach to caring for the lawn.

To create the best lawn, he suggests homeowners use weed and feed to kill existing weeds and then apply the pre-emergent blend to stop any future weeds.

Additionally, Green reminds homeowners that a liquid spray, like Weed B Gon, can also be used to eliminate individual weeds.

Green said, in essence, the sprays are solely weedkillers that just attack the weed problem.

Eliminating Snails and Slugs
A fresh planter not only attracts attention from the neighbors, but also snails and slugs looking to feast on the budding plants as the days become warmer.

To get rid of the unwanted creatures, Green suggests phosphate based fertilizers because they will kill the snails and slugs while enriching the garden.

Attracting Hummingbirds

While getting rid of snails and slugs, Green said homeowners can plant certain types of flowers to attract favorable companions for the yard, like various types of hummingbirds.

"Putting out feeders will help the moms immensely," he said.

Certain feeders can also attract other types of birds that are migrating and looking for a place to stop on their journey.

Additionally, red salvia, lavender lantana and various types of palm plants will also bring in hummingbirds searching for a nesting area or a place to grab some nectar.

Watering the Lawn
A properly maintained lawn also requires a smart watering system that not only conserves water but also keeps the grass green.

For the current time of year, Green said that a lawn can be watered once every three to six days, depending on the weather conditions.

Before and after a rain storm, Green said sprinklers can be turned off for a handful of days to take advantage of the free watering that mother nature offers.

Storms aside, Green recommends that homeowners stay on top of their watering schedule because of the lack of water resources.

"Be water-responsible," he said.

Green Landscape Nursery is located at 26191 Bouquet Canyon Rd. in Saugus. The phone number is (661) 255-8838.


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