Fall is the time for lawn renovations

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2008

By Darrell Blackwelder
For the Salisbury Post
Garden shops and retail outlets are ready for homeowners that need to renovate their lawns this fall.
Generally by this time of year, most fescue lawns look terrible. Intermittent rains during hot weather encouraged indigenous weeds such as crabgrass to flourish and dominate weak fescue.
Abundant rainfall this week is the perfect spark to prepare lawns for fall renovations. Below are questions posed over the past week about lawns that may be of interest to those trying to revive weak and weedy lawns.
Question: Can I core aerate my lawn since we’ve had the rain this week?
Answer: Yes. Now is a good time to core aerate your lawn. Coring should be done every couple of years to reduce compaction and allow air to roots. Don’t wait too long to seed and fertilize after you aerate.
Question: When is the best time to over-seed fescue lawns?
Answer: September is the best time to initially seed or over-seed weak lawns. Seed should germinate rapidly in warm fall temperatures. Try to have lawns seeded by the end of October.
Question: What are the seeding rates for fescue seed?
Answer: For over-seeding thin areas, use about 3-4 pounds per 1,000 square feet. A new lawn or bare areas should receive about 7-8 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
Question: Can I over-seed with annual ryegrass to have a green lawn over the winter?
Answer: Only warm season grasses such as bermuda grass are over-seeded with annual ryegrass. Ryegrass weakens cool season fescue and bluegrass turf grasses.
Question: Is there time left to kill weeds with Roundup?
Answer: Yes, there is time, but don’t wait too much longer to kill out weeds. When temperatures decline later this month, so does the effectiveness of the herbicide.
Question: How soon after I plant my lawn can I use broadleaf weed killers?
Answer: The lawn needs to be well established before applying broad-leafed herbicides. Mow your lawn at least three times before an application. Post emergence herbicides can be applied almost any time of year.
Question: How soon after my fescue germinates can I mow the grass?
Answer: Fescue should be cut when the newly emerging grass reaches about 4 inches. Raise the mower as high as it will go and mow. Make sure the blade is very sharp.
Question: Should I use straw mulch on newly seeded lawns?
Answer: Yes. Bare ground needs clean, wheat straw to hold moisture, allowing grass seed to germinate. Use about one bale per 1,000 square feet.Question: You always recommend a blend of turf type fescues for over-seeding. Is it really necessary?
Answer: A blend of turf type fescues and blue grass survives brown patch much better than a monoculture or single fescue cultivars.
Darrell Blackwelder is an agricultural agent in charge of horticulture with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Call 704-216-8970
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