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Blackwelder column: Get ready for fall lawn renovation

August is the time to prepare for cool season lawn renovation, which usually begins in September.
September is the best time to fertilize and reseed fescue and other cool season lawns in Rowan County, but certain preparations now will make the renovation process more successful.
There is still time to have your soil tested. Soil testing eliminates the guesswork in determining the fertilization rates of lime and other nutrients required for optimum growth. Most homeowners with lawn problems never test their soil to determine the correct fertilization.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture offers soil testing as a free service to residents of North Carolina. The sample kits are available from Cooperative Extension and some garden centers in Rowan County. Results arrive in a few weeks, providing homeowners with detailed information to correct soils with nutritional problems.
Residents should not bring their soil to the Extension Office, but send the samples via mail or UPS to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture in Raleigh for a complete analysis.
Home lawns and other crop soils should be tested every two to three years for maximum growth and fertilizer utilization.
In late summer, weeds are often a major problem in fescue lawns, especially Bermuda grass, nutsedge and crabgrass. In some instances, when the predominant turf is weeds, it’s best to kill them and start over.
Systemic herbicides containing glyphosate (Roundup) kills unwanted grasses and weeds to the root.
Bermuda grass is a major weed and a difficult perennial grass to eliminate, but it is possible.
Bermuda grass should be sprayed now, since this is the best growing condition for the warm-season grass. Glyphosate translocates best when the plant is actively growing during hot temperatures. As the weather gets progressively cooler in late September, glyphosate and other systemic herbicides lose their effectiveness.
Herbicide applications now allow the homeowner another opportunity to reapply weed killers to areas missed by the first spray. Lawns that are completely killed are easy to till or core-aerate, which provides a better seedbed for emerging grass seed.
Blocking off rectangular sections works best for renovation projects because it helps facilitate correct measurement.
Lawn renovation time is just a few weeks away. The window for renovating fescue and other cool season grasses is narrow. Those planning to over-seed or have a total makeover need to strongly consider these options now. Time has a way of slipping up on all of us each fall.
Darrell Blackwelder is an agricultural agent in charge of horticulture with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Call 704-216-8970.
http://www.rowanmastergardener.com
http://rowan.ces.ncsu.edu
http://rowanhorticulture.blogspot.com/

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