Cool season turf grass management

Cool season turf grasses are ready to kick off the most vigorous part of their growing season. A look in grass stands this week is already showing fescue beginning to take off. That means it’s time to lay out a strategy for cool season turf grass management for the coming year.

The next time you walk across your lawn, look for broadleaf weeds. They’re out there, and March is the perfect time to treat them while they’re small. Find a day when it’s 50 degrees or warmer and spot treat (fall is a better time for broadcast treatments). Try to avoid application when rain is imminent within 24 hours of application or efficacy may be reduced.

If crabgrass is a concern, put a note on the calendar for early April to remind you to check out a native redbud tree since crabgrass preventers are typically applied when the redbuds are in full bloom. With any luck, your lawn is thick and in good shape and keeping crabgrass at bay naturally. If not, apply a crabgrass preventer, making sure you can get a quarter inch of irrigation water or natural rainfall shortly after to water it in.

Most of our cool season turf grass stands go dormant due to drought at some point during the summer. If you water to prevent dormancy, apply a slow release fertilizer in early May to keep the lawn growing well through the summer. If not, this application can be avoided.

What crabgrass preventer are you using? Some products are season long. Others are not, and need to be reapplied by mid-June to prevent an influx of crabgrass. Determine in advance whether you are willing to reapply in mid-summer or not before purchasing.

Grub issues are the focus in July. When applied in early July and watered in, products containing the active ingredient imidacloprid can do a great job of preventing grubs that can damage turf stands. If you see damage from larger grubs later on in July and in to August, switch to grub control products that contain Dylox for best results.

If there were two times of the year for applying fertilizer, early September is the first with November second. The September fertilization helps to encourage root and tiller development during good fall growing conditions. The November fertilization is taken up by the roots but is not used until the following spring.

By the way, November is also a great time for broadleaf weed control. Weeds are small and much easier to control than in the spring. Be sure to use label rates for all products.

With all that work to do, you may want to start a calendar just for turf grass management. A good, thick stand of turf is the best defense against invading weeds and thinning stands caused by insect and disease issues. Having a ready reminder of these important dates will help you to keep a plan in place to improve your turf grass stand.

David Hallauer47 Posts

David Hallauer is the Meadowlark Extension District agent in the areas of horticulture and crops and soils.


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