Due to the constant rain last year, our lawns were in pretty good shape when fall rolled around. We got spoiled. But this summer was typical as far as Annapolis weather goes...it was brutally hot and devoid of much in the way of rain so your lawn should look pretty depressing about now. But the good news is that's how our lawns generally look in mid-September, so we know how to handle it. The work you put in now will pay off in spades come spring.
You know the old rule of thumb when it comes to corn gluten….as soon as you see the forsythias bloom in spring, apply it to your lawn to prevent the germination of weeds. But people often forget that corn gluten, besides being an effective, organic weed preventer, is also a great organic fertilizer, since it is high on nitrogen. So, essentially, corn gluten does double-duty when it comes to your lawn.
There are a few organic fertilizers out there, but very few organic weed preventers, so corn gluten is a boon to those who are uncomfortable using conventional weed control products. It is important to note that corn gluten will not kill existing weeds. There are only a few organic products that kill weeds, and there are no organic selective week solutions that leave the grass unharmed. But, if you are looking to stop weed seeds from germinating, corn gluten is a great option, although it does take three years to reach maximum effectiveness. Corn gluten will stop ALL seeds from germinating….including grass seed. So if you plan on seeding, seed FIRST, wait for about two to three weeks, and THEN lay down your corn gluten. Believe it or not, a lot of weeds, such as dandelions, plantain, and clover, get their start in fall, so that is an ideal time to lay down corn gluten.
What about fertilizing? Most people either under-fertilize or massively over-fertilize. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground there. Let’s start by pointing out that if you have a mulching mower and recycle your clippings back into the lawn, you are already putting nitrogen back into the ground. That means that you should have a lighter hand while fertilizing. Many of the four-step programs out there are too aggressive with the fertilization schedule, especially for our area, which is on the bay. So a spring fertilization/weed prevention application with corn gluten, followed by a lighter application in September, is all you need.
Have any questions about corn gluten or any other lawn and garden questions? Come on in to K&B True Value and ask our experts!