Many northern lawns suffered a setback over the past year. Excessive heat and drought were followed by torrential rains that tore at the slim grass covering and washed out valuable soil. Heavy weed crops following the rains complicated the problem. Delayed fall seedlings were only partly successful and many lawns went into the winter in poor shape.
March is a great time for renovation of established lawns that must be done at the earliest possible moment. Grass seed sprouts better in cool weather. Grass makes its best growth during this time and to get the seeding done early insures later success. If the lawn was worked over last fall and the grass stand is thin, reseed the entire area, using 1/2 pound of seed per 100 square feet. It will not be necessary to dig or plow the area if this was done previously. Just running the teeth of an iron rake through the soil should suffice to provide enough loose soil for the seed.
When and how much to apply are questions that bother both the beginner and the more advanced gardener. There are, however, certain fertilizers made chiefly for grass. These are to be preferred for the lawn. Of course any all-purpose fertilizer will do, but the former is safer for spring use. If one of the newer combinations is intended, it will pay to study the manufacturers directions and stick to his advice. The best time to apply is just as the grass is beginning to grow. A small handspreader will get an even covering. In a small area it is better to mix the right amount with several times its bulk of sand or sifted soil before spreading.
The Coldframe Asset
The coldframe is your greatest asset in March. See that the structure is tight and all the glass is in place. The site must be well drained and the frame should slope toward the south. A height of 18 inches at the rear and 12 inches in front gives the right slope to shed rain and catch the suns rays. A good soil mixture is important, a good general bagged soil mix from the local garden center should work just fine. It is necessary at times to juggle the proportions to get a friable mixture. After screening through a 1/4 inch wire screen, add a heaping cup of superphosphate and one of agricultural lime to every bushel of the mixture. Six inches of this is spread inside the coldframe, or if seeds are sown in flats the latter are filled and set on a base of sand or cinders until seedlings are ready for transplanting.
Most annuals and vegetables can be sown in the coldframe through March. The important things to remember are the amount of coldframe space available and the date at which it is possible to set out early plants in the garden or even as you renovate your lawn. The best way to sow cabbage and the like can be done in the outdoors in six weeks, but tomatoes sown at the same time cannot be set out until the end of May.
In a general way it is advisable to sow the cool-season crops at the beginning of March, the more tender in mid-March, so that later on the latter can be transplanted into the space vacated by the planting out of the cool crops. In any case it will be necessary for some time to cover the glass in the evening to conserve heat. The covering is removed in the morning as the temperature rises.