Late Spring Lawn Strategy

By Allyn Hane - "The Lawn Care Nut"
May 21, 2022

I’m supposed to be writing this blog post about late spring lawn care, but as I sit down to type, I’m acutely aware of the fact that most of you reading this didn’t even have an ACTUAL spring this year.

You just went right from snow to summer with a whole lot of freezing rain in between. In fact, from what I can see surveying my lawn care groups around the country, I’d say a good majority of you are still running about a month behind where you normally are.

That’s actually a good thing for one reason: Milorganite Bag Contest.

milorganite bag contest 2022

That’s right, the folks at Milorganite® are going to be updating the lawn (and house) on their famous fertilizer bag for 2023. Since your lawns across most of the country are just now starting to peak, the timing is perfect if you think your lawn has what it takes to dominate and win!

If you remember, we did this in 2018, and Phil Mazzotti from Saratoga, NY was our winner. I traveled to his house for the big reveal, and we even had a meetup locally that night. It was a great time and Phil has become a good friend!

Now we are ready to do it again and I can’t wait to see which one of you gets the call! Check out all the official details here.

Now, onto the lawn tips …

rain dew on grass blade

Water Is Most Important

Just like with humans, plants are mostly made up of water. In fact, more so. The average adult man is made up of about 60% water whereas the average grass plant is nearly 80% water. So, it stands to reason that if we want a healthy lawn, we need to make sure it’s got plenty of water, especially coming into summer.

However, it’s not your responsibility to produce all the water your lawn needs. You are going to get some rain help. For example, if I look at Bolingbrook, IL, you can see they get 3-4” of rain monthly through even the hottest months of the year.

precipitation graph of Bolingbrook, IL

If you figure that lawns up that way are mostly fescue and kentucky bluegrass, those grasses need around 1.5” of water per week. If you have a 4-week month that’s 6” of total irrigation needed. According to historical data, if you live in Bolingbrook, you’re likely going to get 4” for free from the rain! That means you only have to account for the remaining 2”.

Not too bad right?

There is a lot more information on this subject on our irrigation and watering page, but here I just wanted to get you to look at it in a little different way to hopefully encourage you to get out and prepare early this season. The lawn is probably looking really good right now, but you are going to have those stretches where it will be dry and over 90F and that’s when you’ll want to have a good plan to put into action right away.

Evening Mow

One thing that I have started doing now that I have a lot of battery-operated equipment is mowing in the evenings. Now, I’m not out there at 10 PM or anything crazy like that but with the quieter operation, it’s not bothering anyone if I’m still mowing at around 8 PM sunset.

The reason I’ve been mowing in the evenings is the grass is less stressed at that time. I have seen in my St Augustine that if I mow in the middle of the day when it’s over 95 here in Bradenton, I will see some stress spots appear here and there. If I wait until evening when things cool off, it cuts down on this.

man laying on green grass feeling grass with hand

You can test me on this with your grass too. Get down and touch it in the middle of the day when the sun is beating on it. Even if it’s green and lush, you’ll still be able to feel that it’s a little crispy. That plant is trying to conserve water and it just seems rough to be mowing and walking on it when it’s in that state.

Whereas in the evening time, you can literally feel things loosen up.

I would say the same thing would work in the mornings, and probably morning would even be a better time to try this, but for me, we have dew on the ground every morning and I for sure do not want to mow when the lawn is wet. That’s just a huge mess waiting to happen!

Last Tip - Those Seed Heads

I have one last tip for you and it’s mostly for you cool season folks. Now that things are growing, you are going to start seeing seed heads popping up EVERYWHERE in your lawn. Some of you will think this is a problem. Here is a video I made showing what I am talking about.

I bring this up because first off, this is normal. Your lawn going to seed is actually a good sign that it’s healthy. However, things will look pretty bad for a little bit of time and I don’t want you to get concerned about that either.

Those seed stalks are stiff and the tops of them turn brown when you hit them with your mower. This will cause your entire lawn to have a brown “cast” to it and some people think it’s diseased. It’s not… it’s just rough stalks and they will go away in about 2 weeks.

The key for you during this time is to mow as often as you can to discourage seed production. Creating those seeds (which are sterile BTW) robs the plant of energy that we would rather have to go towards rooting or be stored for summer.

So, the tip here is that if you see the seed heads, don’t panic, just mow more for a couple of weeks and literally cut your way through it!