Well, it looks like Punxsutawney Phil was actually right for once. Spring has certainly arrived early this year, including here in the New River Valley! According to the US National Phenology Network, it’s about 2-3 weeks early in our part of the country and up to four weeks earlier than average in other parts of the country.

We’ve seen consistently warmer than normal temperatures, including record crushing highs this past weekend. (The temperature on March 28 was 86 degrees in Blacksburg, and the previous record high on that day was 81, according the National Weather Service.) And although the NWS is predicting that temperatures will drop back to normal and even below normal levels over the next few days, it looks like we’ll still be seeing above normal temperatures on the whole for the next few months. The Climate Prediction Center’s forecast for the Mid Atlantic region from April through June predicts a greater than 50% chance of above normal temperatures in this time period.

These high temperatures, combined with plenty of precipitation has lawns around our area looking nice and green these days. And the rain predictions for the next three months shows a 40% chance of above normal precipitation across the Mid Atlantic.

With all of this in mind, we thought we’d go over a couple of the things you may be seeing in your lawn and landscape now because of spring’s early arrival.

1. Green Lawns With Some Brown Areas

Most lawns are probably mostly nice and green by now (and growing!), leading to lawn mowers firing up earlier than usual. However, you may also be noticing some brown areas here and there. These spots may be the result of the drought we experienced last fall, which placed a lot of stress on our lawns during a time that cool season grasses are usually doing some of their best growing. These brown areas may green up over the next few weeks, or they may be dead.

The best thing you can do for these spots is a core aeration and overseeding this fall. You may be tempted to do it now, but spring is actually not the ideal time of year to seed your lawn. Check out our blog post with more information about why that is!

If the brown spots are in shady areas of your lawn, these dead spots may be due to lack of leaf removal. For these areas, you might want to consider spring seeding. Although we normally recommend fall as the best time to seed, in areas where you have lot of leaves, the young grass often doesn’t get established before leaves fall. This covers the seedlings and then leaf removal can further damage the new grass. So by seeding these spots in the spring, the grass plants have all season to establish roots and develop before the fall leaf season arrives.

Thin patches of grass, like ones seen under this tree, are commonly caused by a lack of leaf removal. Photo by Friggy_30 via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

We would be happy to come take a look at any brown areas in your lawn and let you know whether a spring or fall core aeration and overseeding would be best. Get in touch with us today to get started.

2. Weeds

When all the trees, flowers, and grass are doing their best growing, unfortunately that usually means weeds are too. Across our area, since late February, many homeowners have been noticing two specific winter annual weeds.

The first is hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta). A member of the mustard family, this weed is prolific in our area this year right now. It’s tall and you’ll notice white flowers blooming on it. It’s been popping up along edges of walkways and in landscaped beds, causing concern for a lot of homeowners about how to control it.

The second is henbit deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule). This weed is a member of the mint family. It is identifiable by its scalloped leaves and its long, tubular purple flowers.

Henbit. Photo by Photo by F.D. Richards via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
Henbit in bloom

While these weeds may be difficult to control now, give us a call, and we can advise you of the best way to get a handle on them. And we have good news! We are going to be adding an additional pre-emergent treatment in early to mid winter of 2020-2021 specifically to target these weeds. Since these weeds are so difficult to get rid of once they have emerged, this service will prevent them from emerging in the first place. And if you book this treatment right now, you can save 10% on it. Contact us today to book your spot.

In these strange days of isolation and social distancing due to COVID-19, at least spring’s early arrival has given us a chance to be outside and has ensured that there’s plenty of mowing, weeding, and other yard work to do! We hope you and your family stay safe and healthy, and give us a call if you have any questions about how we can help you reach your lawn goals this growing season.