Posts filed under ‘turf’

Fall is a Great Time to Fertilize Lawns

The September issue of Purdue’s Turf Tips ( has a few simple and straightforward recommendations for lawn care:

The amount of nitrogen fertilizer required by turf depends on various management and environmental/management factors. A good rule to follow is to never apply more than 1.0 lb N/1000 sq. ft.  in any one application.

So the question remains, what type of fertilizer to use? There are many different brand names, marketing tools, as well as different analyses of fertilizer.  All these factors can make the decision on which fertilizer to use seem a bit confusing. Purdue offers the following advice:

There are many fertilizer choices available to the professional and the homeowner. Organic, inorganic, and synthetic organic products are all available. As with all plants, turfgrasses cannot tell the difference between the sources of nutrients. Some products contain high amounts of slow-release N while others contain none. Our recommendation is to use a mixture of quick and slow-release nitrogen sources in most situations. Although there are exceptions to the rule, it is good practice to use products with a greater percentage of slow-release nitrogen sources during warmer months and a greater percentage of quick-release nitrogen sources during cooler times of the year. Your soil test report will help you to choose which fertilizer might work best for your lawn.

Full podcast here:  

September 20, 2010 at 11:53 am

Controlling Troublesome Crabgrass in Turf

The follwing is a repost from the 8/5/10 OSU Extension BYGL Newsletter

Crabgrass is flourishing in some lawns this year, and in some cases these are lawns that have been ‘crabgrass free’ for several years. What’s happening? According to Dave Gardner (Turfgrass Science, OSU Department of Horticulture and Crop Science) the answer can be summed up in three words: hot, wet, and humid. The 2010 growing season has been unusually hot and humid with many areas experiencing successive days above 90F. And until recently, much of Ohio has had consistent rainfall events keeping soils wet.

It is hard to mistake crabgrass. Crabgrass has spreading stems and wide, flat leaf blades that lie on the ground. The spike-like seed heads are arranged like fingers which is described by the name of the genus, Digitaria. Crabgrass is an annual plant, which means that once seed is produced, the plants die. This life cycle presents a serious problem for lawns that are dominated by crabgrass; the lawns become dominated by dead crabgrass plants in the fall. Of course, this also presents an opportunity since the best time to seed turfgrass is in late summer to early fall. The new turfgrass plants will rise just as the crabgrass declines.

Crabgrass is a “warm-season” plant meaning that conditions have been ideal for their growth and development. Most grasses used in Ohio lawns are cool-season plants, meaning that high temperatures stunt their growth; consequently, they are at a disadvantage when competing head-to-head with warm-season plants. This is particularly a problem in lawns with thinning stands of turfgrass. Short-term control of nutsedge and crabgrass usually focuses on herbicide applications. Long-term control focuses on growing dense stands, utilizing high populations of turfgrass to maximize competition with these weeds.

A herbicide application targeting crabgrass may be combined with a turfgrass “rejuvenation” program, as long as care is taken to observe the waiting period between the time of the application and the time of seeding. For example, quinclorac (e.g. Drive) may be used effectively as a postemergent selective herbicide for late-season crabgrass control. The targeted crabgrass must have 6 or more tillers; it will not control crabgrass that has just started to tiller. Seeding of Kentucky bluegrass may be done 28 days after a quinclorac application, and seeding of turf-type tall fescue or perennial ryegrass may be done 14 days after an application.

Full podcast available here:

August 11, 2010 at 8:15 am

Last Minute Tips for Turfgrass Management

Since we’ve had some nice weather for November I thought I would chat a bit this morning about turfgrass management.  If you are contemplating one final lawn mowing, try to resist the urge to set the mower down and scalp your lawn for the final mowing. Older publications may have recommended mowing low late in the fall and again in the spring for Midwest lawns. But recent research has there are not many advantages to this practice.  Agronomically, mowing turf low should be avoided because photosynthesis is very high during the fall even with cool temperatures.  The higher the photosynthesis, the more energy a grass plant have for next spring, and the healthier a grass plant.

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Another good tip for turfgrass management is to consider a November application of turfgrass fertilizer. Fertilizer stimulates increased photosynthesis and some of the extra energy derived from fertilizer goes into turfgrass plant storage. Next spring, these storage products are used for green-up of the turfgrass plant, and more importantly, for turfgrass root growth. Though you might think that fertilizer applied early next spring would do the equivalent as November-applied fertilizer, just the opposite occurs. A spring application of fertilizer will never compensate for a missed application in November.

Full podcast here:

November 10, 2009 at 8:30 am

Dandelion Control for Agricultural and Residential Applications — Fall is Best

Massive fields of yellow can be seen in farm fields, residential lawns, and many other areas thanks to the dandelion.  The April 23, 2009 BYGL had a great article on dandelion control.  The kneejerk reaction is to spray those dandelions now with herbicides, but control of dandelion this time of year is difficult whether dandelion is in an agricultural field or a residential lawn. Below are the dandelion control tips from BYGL:

Dandelions are more effectively controlled in the spring when they are in puffball stage. But remember, the best time to control dandelions is fall. However, areas with massive populations of dandelions need to be tackled now to reduce the amount of seeds produced, and to reduce the competition of the dandelions with the turfgrass. This action requires a second application of broadleaf herbicides later in the spring/early summer, if other weeds are present.

Herbicides containing 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba are most effective for control of dandelions and other broadleaf weeds in turf and crops. If you only have a few dandelions in your lawn, consider spot-applying a herbicide with a spray bottle rather than treating the whole lawn. Pay close attention to the herbicide label and use the correct herbicide rate: more is not better.  Also, be sure to pay attention to the weather as to avoid applying a herbicide immediately before a rain event.

In addition to, or in place of, herbicides there are some things that can be done to prevent or reduce dandelion competition on your lawn.  First, mow at three inches and mow frequently so as not removing more than 1/3 of the leaf during one mowing. Also, a dense lawn is less prone to weeds so plan on fertilizing your lawn. In the Midwest, a general recommendation is two pounds of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. of lawn per year. The application of fertilizer should be split with one application in early-September and one application near the last mowing.

In summary, the best time to control dandelion is during the fall, regardless of whether the situation is in a lawn or in a crop field.  For turf, if dandelions are numerous to the point of choking grass then plan on two applications (one now and one in late-May) of broadleaf herbicides for control.

Full podcast available here:

April 29, 2009 at 7:30 am

Grub Control for Ohio Turfgrass – April and May are Generally Too Soon

In the April 16 BYGL Newsletter there was a brief mention of indirect grub damage occurring this time of year. I use the word ‘indirect’ because the grubs themselves are not doing the damage. Grubs have moved back up close to the surface to do superficial feeding. The feeding from grubs, this time of year, does not do much (if any) damage so long as there is ample moisture in the spring. However, damage is coming from animals looking for an easy food source. From the recent BYGL newsletter:

Both raccoons and skunks have excellent memories and will return to areas that had a good crop of grubs in prior years . . . the process of the animals tearing and rolling the turfgrass can kill portions of it. To prevent damage from the varmints, spread Milorganite or a similar fine graded composted sewage sludge on areas that had grubs last fall.

So, what about controlling the grubs? In the April 17 edition of Purdue’s Turf Tips Timothy Gibb wrote a straightforward article on the best timing for grub control applications. In almost every outdoor retail store and garden center you will see grub control products prominently displayed this time of year.  Applying grub control products in April or May is too early for effective control with today’s current technology.  Gibb provides four reasons why you should not make grub control applications in April/May:

  1. The goal of white grub insecticides is to prevent turf damage, not eradicate grubs. Grub damage in the spring is very minimal and only seen in the driest of years. Since there is a limited chance of significant grub damage, why apply?
  2. Grubs found in the turfgrass right now are the stage that passed the winter. These feed very little and are extremely difficult to kill. Insecticides applied now will not be very effective.
  3. Even if you could control grubs now, it will have no effect on the population of grubs come next August when the really damaging generation hatches.
  4. Insecticides applied now will biodegrade over time and may not remain in the soil at high enough concentrations to be effective in August when we really need them. (Certainly, they will be more effective if applied closer to the egg hatch date in early August).

White grub populations should be assessed beginning in early-August.  Populations of annual grub species that are less than six grubs per square foot can usually be masked by water and fertilizers, unless it is a dry year then treatment may be warranted. Populations between 10 and 15 per square foot can cause significant turf damage and treatment should be applied. If your lawn has had a perennial problem with grubs, then a treatment may be warranted. White grub control insecticide treatments are best applied July through mid-August.

Full podcast available here:

April 22, 2009 at 7:30 am

Fall Maintenance of Turfgrass

Dr. John Street, OSU Turf Researcher, wrote an excellent article in the Buckeye Turf notes recently on fall fertilization of turfgrass:

The late-season fertilization strategy is based on applying nitrogen (N) fertilizer in the late fall (mid November to early December period depending on temperature). Ideally, N should be applied just around the time that top growth has significantly stopped or ceased. N applied at this time should extend the greening of the turf longer into the late fall without additional top growth, so timing is critical. Not too early but not too late.

The extended greening results in the turf remaining photosynthetically active for as much as 4-6 weeks longer. The carbohydrate from this still active photosynthesis is translocated downward to support root growth and stolon/rhizome growth or the excess stored as a food reserve for next spring/summer. Spring green-up is usually enhanced resulting in earlier spring greening and additional photosynthesis and food production without the surge growth from a traditional early spring fertilization. REMEMBER – This usually eliminates the need for N fertilization early in the spring where appropriate late fall fertilization has occurred.

Using a less costly water-soluble source containing a fair portion of urea should help offset or lower the fertilization cost. In fact, the majority of late season fertilization research was done with urea and ammonium nitrate. One pound of N per 1,000 sq. ft. is considered an acceptable rate. Urea alone can be considered. A premium late-season fert on sandy soils could include the addition of IBDU in a Urea/IBDU combination of 35-50% IBDU to lessen potential N leaching losses over the winter. IBDU is relatively temperature independent in N release.

In addition to fall fertilization, consider applying herbicides to your turf if dandelion or other broadleaf weeds are a problem. Early November is not too late to apply, so long as your turf and weeds remain actively growing.

Full podcast on this topic available here:

October 29, 2008 at 7:00 am

Japanese Beetle Control

Japanese Beetles have made themselves known in agricultural fields and around homes. In this weeks podcast, I give some thoughts on control of japanese beetles for both environments. Listen here:

July 23, 2008 at 7:00 am

Ground Ivy Control in Turf

Ground ivy (also referred to as creeping charlie) is one of the more difficult to control weeds in turf.  I provide some tips in this weeks podcast:

May 27, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Mole Control Options

In Van Wert County, Ohio, we are experiencing a wet spring. For whatever reason, this year seems to be a particularly bad year with regards to mole infestations. I have received a few calls regarding mole control. Listen to my full mole control podcast here:

April 29, 2008 at 3:33 pm


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