For The Answer
Weekly Express-News Article
It is hard to believe it with all the hot weather we have been having, but September is near and temperatures will moderate. The month also is the time for some important lawn activities.
If you had winter weed problems last winter it is time to apply the pre-emergent herbicide. Herbicides like Amaze, XL, Balan and Betasan will prevent many of the annual winter weeds from germinating. In many yards bedstraw, rescue grass, henbit, annual bluegrass, dandelion, and tickseed were very much a problem. The granular materials need to be applied and activated at the soil surface before the first cold wave stimulates the weed seeds to sprout. Follow the instructions closely.
October 1 is the target date for “winterizer” fertilizer. There are many brands and all have some variation of the term “winterizer” on the label. Common formulas are 15-5-10, 18-6-12 and other 3-1-2 ratios. The grass plant stores the nutrients for cold resistance and a fast green-up next spring.
Autumn is brown patch time. The fungus disease develops when the nights become mild. The best way to reduce brown patch infection is to reduce watering in the fall beginning in September. The disease centers always seem to start in the lowest, wettest part of the lawn. A lawn that is on the dry side rarely develops brown patch. It also helps to prevent the disease if, when you do water, it is in the morning rather than the evening. Several fungicides including Turfcide and Fungaway will stop the spread of brown patch once it starts.
Sandburs are maturing and soon the dogs and you will have the pesky burs stick to paws and pant legs. The best way to prevent sand burs is to apply pre-emergent herbicide in April and June and/or to apply an MSMA herbicide to young plants over the summer. See plantanswers.com for the full regime.
If you have the plants now with maturing burs, the plants can still be pulled out by hand if there isn’t an overwhelming number. Throw the plants, burs and all, into the garbage. It also reduces bur problems if you mow them low as soon as heads appear. The burs are still on the ground, but are not as likely to attach your pant legs when they are cut down. A sting mower works if you are willing to endure the sandbur missiles launched by the mower.
Although you can lay sod all year if you purchase the material from a reliable supplier, September is the last month when it is reasonable to try and create a lawn with Bermuda or buffalo grass seed. The seed requires warm weather and water to germinate and then requires a period of warm weather to produce a sod complete with a root system. Apply 2 – 3 lbs., of Bermuda grass seed per 1,000 sq. feet to a tilled and leveled seed bed. If you are able to incorporate 2 – 3 inches of compost and 2 lbs., of winterizer fertilizer (per 1,000 sq. ft.) to the seedbed, it will really make a difference in growth rate and water use. The $25/cu. yd., of compost you pay and spread will be repaid by reduced need for watering the first summer. One cubic yard of compost applied at two inches deep will cover 162 sq. ft., of lawn (6 cu. yds./1,000 sq. ft).
Bermuda grass and buffalo grass will only prosper in full sun. For a shady lawn, use zoysia or St. Augustine grass. For a copy of the SAWS three-week watering plan for starting a new lawn call (210) 704-7354. Remember, all types of lawn grass require at least four inches of soil, 6 inches is better.