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Readers seek answers to lawn care questions

Tracey FitzgibbonQ: I got some weed & feed fertilizer from my grandpa’s garage that he no longer needs and want to know if it’s OK to apply it now. – W.F., Albuquerque

A: Sure, it’ll be a great time of year to fertilize your lawn, but wait. As long as you’re going to apply the “weed & feed” fertilizer to only an expanse of turf, then yes apply it. Now if you have trees, shrubs or garden area in the midst of the lawn, then NO.

You should not use any sort of a weed & feed anywhere near or under those plants. So, if your lawn is studded with trees or shrubs you will not, can not, and had better not apply a weed & feed style fertilizer to that lawn.

See, the “weed” part of that concoction could/will be absorbed by the trees/shrubs and in turn poison them. So please, if you are going to apply a weed & feed to any lawn you have, plan to keep it well away from any trees and shrubs.

Now when you’re applying a weed & feed type fertilizer it’s best to water the lawn deeply first and then apply the weed & feed to a damp lawn. That way the “weed” part sticks to the weeds and is absorbed by them. If you spread the “fertilizer” and then water it in the weeds will probably stay completely unaffected, except more that likely grow like gang busters since you’ve just fed them.

So that’s a rule of thumb: treating for weeds in the lawn you need apply to a damp lawn.

Just remember, PLEASE NEVER apply a weed & feed fertilizer near or under any tree, shrub, rose, hedge, perennial or plant that you value. Promise?!

Q: I tried re-seeding several bare spots in my lawn recently and nothing has happened. Any thoughts on why and what do I need to do to be successful?

A: First, I wonder if the seed got covered after you applied it and if you did, was it covered too thickly? Then did you scrape away the old dead spots to bare dirt before you spread the seed? You do want the seed to sit on dirt so yes, the spot does need to be scraped, removing the old dead stuff.

Spread a thin layer of topsoil, dampen it so the seed you apply sticks to the soil and then cover the area with a slight layer of topsoil. You should not be able to see the seed but then, too, it can’t be covered too thickly. Next walk on the spots so everything gets firmly tamped down.

Next will be watering. You’ll want to keep the spots damp for the next seven to 10 days. That will mean getting out there several times a day to lightly sprinkle the spots by hand. During the germination those spots shouldn’t dry out in the least. Certainly not soggy, runny mud puddles, but none the less kept moist.

There is available a “New Lawn” type of fertilizer that you could apply, which is usually higher in the mineral phosphorus to encourage healthy root development. When applied according to label suggestions it could give the seeding process a leg up.

The last thing I can think of why your seeding wasn’t successful would be the weather. It’s been pretty “un-normal,” so maybe the seed is still sitting, waiting for more moderate weather. I think that as long as you clean the spots, spread the seed on dampened soil, get it covered and keep those spots damp, you should see success soon.

Happy Diggin’ In this Memorial Day Weekend!

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103, or to