We’ll be out on exactly April 1st… Fools! We’ve had seasons start before the end of March and have had 10+ inches of snow in early May pushing our start to mid-May. It’s not based on a calendar date, here’s our strategy:
The short answer is that we get started as soon as the snow has melted and the ground has thawed.
The longer answer is that we watch many measurements to first get started but then more importantly is making sure our crabgrass preventer gets down in time. We may have to skip some lawns are still have snow piles, need a bit of cleanup from the winter or are too wet. We’ll be back. We start our Spring applications closer to our location in Loretto so our return trips to the ones skipped aren’t too costly.
We’re able to look out the window to see when the snow’s gone but to track frost depth, we use the Hennepin County Frost Depth Tracker.
We ensure we’re not applying our products on frozen ground and that the grass will be able to take in what we’re putting down.
For the crabgrass, we watch a very specific measure to know when we should start, be part way through, and done with putting our crabgrass preventer down. It tracks “Growing Degree Days” which basically measures how warm it’s been for how long. This is the measure needed to know when [crabgrass] seed will germinate. The source we use the Michigan State University’s Growing Degree Day Tracker
After we’ve gotten started we watch out for one more thing which is morning frost. Walking or driving over grass with frost on it will kill the grass blade, not the plant. It will recover if this is done but it looks bad in the meantime. We wait for the morning frost to cook off in the Early Spring season before we go out for the day.
A common question we get in the spring is – what if it snows after our Early Spring Application?
Nothing negative will happen and there is actually some benefit. With the ground unfrozen, any new snow will behave just like rain. It will soak the fertilizer and crabgrass preventer into the soil, benefiting the turf. Our internal, “turf nerdy” joke is that a spring snow is “slow-release moisture” (good fertilizers are labeled slow-release).