Many of us who made New Year’s resolutions have by now completed all those related to eating better, getting more exercise or losing pounds, so now we can move on to items such as getting our lawns in shape for spring. Starting early will help us get ahead of problems so our grass can take off with the arrival of spring in three months.

Since everyone’s lawn is unique, the first order of business should be to assess your current lawn situation. It can be helpful to draw a rough map of your property with buildings, drives, tree areas and lawn areas. The simple map is only intended to help identify areas you want to work on before spring arrives. The map will help identify grass areas you need to soil sample as well.

Even if you don’t normally fertilize your grass, correcting any nutrient deficiencies with information provided by a soil sample will help improve the health of low maintenance grasses. If you fertilize on a regular basis, a soil sample can help identify whether you need to modify the nutrient makeup of the fertilizer mix or apply lime.

Major impediments to a good lawn are low nutrition, shade and competition from trees and turf weeds. Shade can come from several sources. Homes and other structures can block sunshine, especially on the north side of two-story building, while large growing trees are a major source of shade as well as root competition for water and nutrients needed by grass.

Use the rough map to select areas where grass can be helped by tree branch pruning, or if not, then consider increasing the size of mulched area around the tree. Identify areas on your map with weeds where herbicide use for cool season weed management may be appropriate. Weeds can build up in poorly growing areas of lawn with poor nutrition, shade, drought damage and root competition from trees. Reducing these problems will aid in grass renewal.

Identify which grass or grasses you currently have because not all are fertilized the same and different herbicide tolerances may exist. Most lawns in the Lakelands area are warm season types, which means they grow when the weather is warm and go dormant and turn brown during the winter months. Bulletins on each turf type and weed management can be found at Clemson University’s HGIC website, clemson.edu/extension/hgic/.

If you are unable to identify your turf, then cut a 3-inch square from an isolated spot or edge area and bring it into the office when it turns green this spring. Take a soil sample now while the volume at the Soil Lab is light so that when May comes, you can apply the appropriate fertilizer types and amounts for your specific turf. If your grass needs lime, it can be applied as soon as you get the results to improve the pH of your soil before growth begins this spring.

Contact our office at 864-223-3264 or stop by to drop off soil samples or ask further questions about lawn improvement.

Program on insects, disease

Clemson will host a program on selection and management of landscape plants that minimize insect, disease and other problems from 2-4:15 p.m. Feb. 2.

The program provides information on an integrated management approach to improve landscape plant health and minimize problems. It is aimed at minimizing pesticide use for trees and shrubs. Space is limited. Both private and commercial pesticide license credits are available. Cost is $25.

James Hodges is a Clemson Extension agent in Greenwood County. He can be reached at 864-223-3264.