It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over and kids are going back to school today.
We survived a pretty tough winter that was especially hard on warm-season grasses. If we have another bad winter we want to make sure that our lawns enter it in the best condition possible.
If you haven’t soil tested this year, now is a good time. If your pH is low, this is the time to determine from a soil test report how much lime you need to put on. Spreading lime in the October to November window would allow the winter rains to activate the lime by spring.
If your soil test indicates low magnesium, use Dolomitic lime, otherwise use Calcitic lime. The pH for Centipedegrass should be between 5.0 and 6.0. Bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass and Tall Fescue pH should range between 5.5 and 6.5. The pH for Zoysiagrass should be between 6.0 and 7.0.
Do not be tempted by all the TV advertisements to “winterize” you warm-season grass lawn. Never apply nitrogen after Sept. 1, not even at low rates. It stimulates the grass to grow at the wrong time, which increases the chance of winter kill and pest damage.
The various funguses attack the rapidly growing tips of the grass. The warm season grasses need to go into dormancy when soil temperatures reach 50 to 55 degrees Farnheit.
Fall is also a good time to control winter annuals in warm season grasses. The best time to apply a preemergent herbicide is between Aug. 20 and Sept. 15.
Do not apply “weed and feed” to warm-season grasses. The “feed” usually contains a high rate of nitrogen. There are preemergent/fertilizer products that do not contain any nitrogen but you must read the label very carefully.
To control crabgrass the soil temperature must be 55 degrees and to control Goosegrass, the temperature must be 65 degrees. It is very important to water the herbicide in within 24 to 48 hours. A December application of atrazine will also control the annual bluegrass that might have escaped the earlier application.
Fall is also a good time to aerate the lawn. Aeration works best when the turf is actively growing. Solid tines are usually what homeowners have available. The hollow tines which remove plugs are usually preferred by landscapers.
You may also wish to seed tall fescue during the fall as well. Most seed is sold as a blend of different varieties.
A straight cultivar is usually twice the cost of a blend. If you want to have your warm season lawn look like Augusta National in the spring, you may want to overseed
Perennial rye which provides better turf quality and wear tolerance that annual rye. The perennial rye will act as annual. It also grows at an even rate as opposed to annual rye.
A brief reminder is that if you haven’t made it to the Market on Main on Saturday mornings from 8 to 10 a.m. you’re missing a treat. There’s a lot of fresh locally grown produce. Get there early.
Brian Maddy is the ANR Agent for Troup Cooperative Extension. The Troup County Extension office is located at 114 Church St. in LaGrange and may be reached at 706-883-1675, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.