March is the month that we all realize just how long the winters last here in Casper. We are all starving for some sunlight and standing on the brink of depression just as March comes with promises of longer days and tee shirts. Every daffodil or tulip that pushes up through a snow drifted bed makes our hearts jump for joy to know that spring has finally come! However, the March rain turns quickly to snow and the temperature drops to below freezing without notice, leaving those pedals frozen in a state of premature death. March can also bring spells of drought carried by warm winds that dry the emerging shoots before they can open. It is important to be ready to adapt quickly as you prepare your landscape for spring.
- The single most important thing that you can do to help your landscape awaken to spring is to provide 1 gallon of water for each square foot of landscape each week. This equals about 1.5 inches of water per square foot. You need to be watching the NOAA weather data very carefully and knowing how much moisture we accumulate each week. Being a little scientific will pay big dividends when your plants are healthier because they had enough water to emerge from dormancy. The plants will begin to emerge from dormancy when the soil temperatures rise above 40 degrees.
- Many lawns suffer the most from this spring drought because their root systems are only 4-6 inches deep. If the weather warms significantly, aerating can be done to help your partially dormant lawn retain the vital moisture. Remember to provide 1 gallon of water per square foot of lawn during periods of warming. The equation is simple: most garden hoses flow about 6-9 gallons per minute so you can water about 6-9 square feet per minute. I typically see that most lawn problems found in June could have been prevented in March and April with proper watering techniques. If not prevented: your lawn will dry out, get stressed, and then be susceptible to fungal diseases later in the spring and early summer which are expensive to treat.
- Pre-emptively killing the weeds that are also emerging from dormancy can prove to be very effective in their eradication later in the season. The weeds often come out of dormancy faster than the grass resulting in weeds along the edge of the sidewalk and your lawn where the soil is warmer. Applying weed control correctly at this time is very effective.
- Fertilizing your lawn, trees, and shrubs will allow them access to the nutrients that they lack during this very important period of development. The plants will use 80% of their available energy during this period, so you have to make sure that it is available for their use.
Spring is officially here but you still have to wait!