Darrell Blackwelder: Now is the time to prepare for fescue lawn renovation

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 22, 2021

August is the time to prepare for fescue lawn renovation in September. September is the best time to fertilize and reseed fescue or cool-season lawns in Rowan County; however certain preparations now will make the renovation process more successful.

Now is the time to have your soil tested. This is still a free service that eliminates the guesswork in determining nutrients needed for maximum turf growth. An overwhelming majority of those with lawn problems have failed to have their soil tested to determine the correct fertilization practices.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture tests soil 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 to provide homeowners with detailed information to correct soils with nutritional problems.

Don’t bring the soil to the extension office; the soil is sent via mail or UPS to N.C. Department of Agriculture in Raleigh for analysis. Home lawns and other crop soils should be tested every 2 to 3 years for maximum growth and utilization of fertilizers.

Summer weeds are a major problem in fescue lawns. In some instances, if you have more weeds than grass, its best to kill the entire lawn and start over. Use herbicides containing glyphosate (Roundup) to kill unwanted annual and perennial grasses and weeds.

Bermuda grass, crabgrass and other weeds need to be sprayed now. Bermuda grass is a major problem perennial grass that is difficult to control. Bermuda grass should be sprayed in August since this grass grows best at high summer temperatures. Glyphosate translocates to the root tips of plants eliminating water uptake killing the plant. As the weather begins to cool in late September, glyphosate will loses its effectiveness.

An early August application allows the homeowner another opportunity to reapply weed killers to areas that may have made with a previous spray.

Lawns or weed-infested areas in lawns that are completely killed are much easier to till or core-aerate. This is important because areas that are completely bare provide an optimum seedbed for fertilizers and emerging grass seed. Blocking off rectangular sections works best for renovation projects because it helps facilitates correct measurement.

Lawn renovation time is just a few weeks away. The seeding window for fescue and other cool-season grasses is fairly narrow so those that plan to renovate this fall need to prepare this month. Time has a way of slipping up on us each fall.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu .