During the winter months, there isn’t much to do when it comes to lawn care. For the most part, you can spend your time hanging out indoors and enjoying a warm drink. Once temperatures consistently fall below 45°F, cool-season grasses go dormant and stop growing. Even during a mild winter, January is a time when it’s best to take a hands-off approach and just leave the grass alone until spring starts to come back around.
Maryland Fertilizer Law
Maryland’s Fertilizer Law is important for all businesses, lawn care professionals, and homeowners to be aware of. This law puts special regulations in place that limit fertilizer use, as well as the nutrient content in any fertilizers used. These limitations are meant to protect the Chesapeake Bay from excess nutrients, especially phosphorous and nitrogen, due to fertilizer runoff.
- Lawn fertilizer cannot be applied to lawns from Nov. 15th through March 1st.
- Any fertilizer used must have a phosphorous content of 0 unless a soil test determines that phosphorous is necessary.
- Each application of fertilizer is not to exceed 0.9 pounds of total nitrogen per 1,000 square feet and 0.7 pounds of soluble nitrogen per 1,000 square feet
- It is illegal to apply fertilizer to sidewalks, driveways, or paved surfaces. This includes using fertilizer for de-icing.
In order to abide by this law, there are some things that are helpful for lawn care professionals, business owners, and homeowners to know. When purchasing fertilizer, the nutrient content will be visible on the bag. Somewhere on the bag, there will be a series of 3 numbers, such as “29-0-4”. The first number represents the amount of nitrogen, the second number is the phosphorous content, and the third number represents the amount of potassium. Where these numbers are located on the bag depends on the brand of fertilizer, but all of them will have them displayed somewhere on the packaging.
Another important thing to remember is how important it is to have your soil tested by a lab. It can be tempting to just get an over-the-counter kit in order to save time, but a professional test has the benefit of pinpoint accuracy. If a soil testing lab indicates a need for phosphorous or a higher nitrogen content than what is permitted under Maryland’s Fertilizer Law, you will be able to legally make those amendments as needed. Sending soil samples to a soil testing lab is often a free service or very low cost. The lab will also send suggestions on specific fertilizers that you can use to get the appropriate results for your lawn, so it eliminates the need for guesswork.
Avoid Foot Traffic
During the winter months, the ground begins to freeze, and cool-season grasses start to become stiff. It’s important to avoid foot traffic on your lawn as much as possible during this time of the year, because it can actually damage your grass, leaving it frayed and split as spring comes back around.
If you haven’t taken care of your lawnmower blades yet, now is a good time to do it. You should sharpen your mower blades every winter in order to keep them in good condition. Dull mower blades will struggle to cut your grass, tearing the crown and causing the grass to bend. Keep them sharp to ensure a smooth cut every time you mow your lawn to keep the grass healthy and lush.
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