April is the transition month for warm season lawns.
Spring temperatures are a roller coaster ride. Take heart that if your Bermuda, Centipede, or Zoysia lawn is only partially green, it will be okay and will turn completely green when temperatures are consistently warm.
Here's a case study from my own lawn, to show you want's going on in Zone 8a for a Zeon Zoysia lawn. Due to the lawn being on a slope, it's greener at the top of the hill. It's greener up top because warm air rises to the top of the slope and cold air settles at the bottom. The colder air is keeping the lower section dormant.
When standing at the top of the slope and focused on what is green, it still doesn't look so great. In fact it looks blotchy, but I'm not worried because my lawn goes through this every spring and experience has taught me that when temperatures are consistently warm, my lawn will be verdant green again!
Fertilizing Tips for Warm Season Lawns
- Prepare to fertilize your warm season lawn (Zoysia, Bermuda, Centipede) after it has fully greened up.
- Our Total Lawn Food 16-4-8 + Iron is what you want for Zoysia lawns and Bermuda lawns. Order 16-4-8 for pick up or delivery or check out our Lawn Coach subscription.
Read the Best Times to Apply Fertilizer >>
- Your TifBlair Centipede should be fertilized with very little fertilizer. We have our own special formulation just for it with lower nitrogen: Centipede Formulation 5-10-30 + Iron. Order 5-10-30 for pick up or delivery or check out our Lawn Coach subscription.
Read Fertilizer Tips for Your Centipede Lawn >>
- Continue to hold off aerating warm season lawns until they fully green up.
Mower Tips for Warm Season Lawns
Dust off your mower! I mowed my Zoysia this week to chop off the seed heads on the few weeds that got by my September application of pre-emergent and to maintain the part of that lawn that did wake up at the top of the slope.
Get your mower in shape for warm weather:
- Start by cleaning off plant debris from last year.
- Did you drain the gas last fall? If not, you'll need to address getting your mower started again - if it won't start, check your spark plugs and carburetor.
- Inspect your mower blades. Do they need sharpening? (They probably do.) You can take off the blades and take them to be sharpened or you can buy new ones if they're that bad.
- Get fresh gas and oil.
Mowing Height: There is a healthy range for each type of lawn. Do you know the best height for your lawn? Look them up at: Summer Mowing for Warm Season Grasses
Getting Rid of Weeds in Warm Season Lawns
- Second Spring Application of Pre-emergent: It's been a long, cool spring, allowing another window to open for spreading pre-emergent herbicide to prevent summer weeds from germinating. It's crucial to understand that this April application is the second half of a two part treatment - the first one done in February. The February treatment prevents most summer weeds, including crabgrass. This second application works best in tandem with the first, so please note that if you didn't spread pre-emergent in February, and are only spreading now in April, that you'll still see a lot of summer weeds. Apply this second application right now in mid April.
- For Bermuda and Zoysia lawns that are greened up, we recommend 16-4-8 with Barricade pre-emergent. For Centipede we recommend 0-0-7 with Barricade pre-emergent.
- 👍 Pre-emergent Rule of Thumb: Apply pre-emergent only on established warm season lawns. If your Bermuda lawn was planted within the last 6 months or your Zoysia/Centipede was planted in the last 12 months, then skip this pre-emergent application and resort to the methods below.
- Post-emergent herbicide in Established Warm Season lawns: Weather permitting, you can apply post-emergent liquid herbicides like Quincept and 3-Way Max for weeds you can see now in established warm season lawns. These post-emergents work best above 65 degrees so on this spring roller-coster, wait for the warmest days. Read the label and follow instructions.
- If it's too cold to apply post-emergents, then mowing and hand weeding are the best solution for winter weeds.
- Pulling by Hand: This may not be what you want to hear. Happily, there is hope for preventing a weedy infestation next winter and Clare explains the steps in Tackling Winter Weeds.
- Mowing: Mow those weeds down before they go to seed. Most winter weeds are going to seed right now so get out there with your mower today! Mowing is an effective way to suppress weeds because it cuts off flower/seed heads and that stops weeds from making more weeds, thus breaking the life cycle. If you have bad winter weeds, mow on a weekly routine and don't let the weeds get ahead of you.
- A robotic lawn mower will mow for you when you'd rather not be out in the pollen.
- Mulch suppresses weed seeds in flower beds. Spread your favorite mulch 2-4" thick and keep it 1-2" away from touching the trunks or stems of your plants. Rake/blow leaves off your lawn and into your beds and natural areas rather than bagging them.
- Dead nettle and henbit weeds are at max capacity in April. Learn about these edible lawn weeds and how to get rid of them in your lawn (maybe eat them?): April Weed of the Month: Dead Nettle & Henbit
Dead nettle and henbit look a lot alike because they're in the same family. In our blog we'll explain how to quickly tell them apart.
Lay Sod in April, Even During Spring Transition
If bare spots are driving you crazy or you have made renovations, you can stop all that mud by laying dormant or transitioning sod.
No problem! It's about to wake up, including the roots, so it will establish faster than in the winter.
We recommend you read our article on laying dormant sod for a few important tips.
Come back next month for May's Lawn Tips for Warm Season lawns!