Last week in February or 1st Week in March: If you failed to overseed your lawn in the fall, now is the second-best time to do so. The soil will be puffy from freezing and thawing and you can simply broadcast about 100 lb of Tall Fescue per acre. If you have a shady lawn add about 25 lb per acre of Fine Fescue (Creeping Red, Hard, sheeps, and/or Chewing Fescue) as they do well in the shade. Raking in the seed will help as well as aerating it in, if the soil is not loose and puffy from winter. Covering the seed with Sides Black Wonder 5000 composted manure will make it super healthy and germinate the seeds. If you do or don’t need seed; put out about 65 lb of actual slow release nitrogen per acre mixed with pelletized lime to keep your soil from becoming too acidic. We use 27-4-7 slow release or similar mixed with pelletized lime. Put 1 bag of 27-4-7 and 1 bag of pelletized lime in your spreader and use 240 lb per acre of each. If you use another analysis, just make sure it is slow release and high in nitrogen (the first number) and calculate to put out about 65 lb of actual Nitrogen per acre (1.5 lb N per 1000 square feet).
1st or 2nd Week in April: Apply a pre-emergence herbicide mixed with slow release fertilizer to your lawn to prevent crabgrass and other summer weeds from germinating when the soil warms up. Do EXACTLY what the label says. If the Forsythia (yellow bells) have bloomed, it is time to put it out. Baracide works well & always use the very lowest rates on the label to last all season. Buy Barricade that is mixed with a good slow release lawn fertilizer. Read the label and follow instructions. This will be your last fertilizer till fall. Never fertilize fescue in hot weather. It will get lush and create more fungus damage.
1st Week in May: Now is a good time to clean up your broadleaf weeds such as clover, dandelion, etc. Apply 2-4-D PER THE LABEL. You can use 2-4-D any time to kill broadleaf weeds (weeds that have a big broadleaf versus grassy type weeds that require other measures). If it’s hot, use a 1⁄2 rate or you will risk burning your fescue. Note: No herbicides work well in extremely cold weather. Be careful of damage to turf in hot weather. Read the label.
1st Week in June: Check your lawn for brown patch fungus all throughout June, July, and August. It will kill it. Brown patch starts out with lesions on the leaves. You can easily confuse it with drought. If it is brown patch adding water is like gas on fire. The lesions turn into large brown patches the size of a basketball. Treat with Abound Systemic and Daconil Fungicide per the label. One treatment gives 4-5 weeks of protection. Heat, excess water, and humidity cause fungus to grow. Do not over water your yard.
2nd Week in September: Apply lime, fertilizer, Black Wonder 5000 and half of your seed. Refer to February for details on seed fertilizer and lime amounts. After you get the seed, fertilizer, Black Wonder 5000 and lime out; spike your lawn with as many holes as you can to work the material down into the soil. If you aerate or spike it once, it is good. If you do it seven times, it is much better. This is the very best time to overseed. Remember: seed, fertilize Black Wonder 5000 and lime first and then aerate or spike it until it looks like Swiss cheese. Now put out the other half of your seed and lightly rake it in. At the same time, check for white grubs (the #1 killer of turf) and apply Seven Insecticide or other approved insecticide for grubs, per the label, and water. Irrigate your yard EVERY DAY for ten days to wash the insecticide and nutrients into the soil and to germinate the seed. Do not let the seed dry out at all until you see the seed germinating.
3rd Week in November: Fertilize just like you did in February, March and September.
Other Important Lawn Tips:
1. Never mow fescue lower than 4 1/2 inches. Grass cut at this height will look better, keep out weeds better, live better in drought and heat, and require LESS mowing.
2. Never mow your grass when it is wet (especially new grass). Wait till it dries out from dew or rain and scatters the clippings. If you are forced to mow wet grass, gather the clippings, mow it twice to disperse them, or scatter them with a blower. Clumped heavy clippings on top of grass will kill it (especially new grass).
3. Keep your grass mowed every 5-6 days. You should never be cutting more than about 1/3 of your grass length away as you mow. Also, keep your blades sharp so you cut the grass rather than tear it. (another reason to cut high; so, you don’t cut rocks and dull your blades.)
4. Keep your soil P.H. level as close to 6.5 on the scale as possible. Take a soil test every few years to determine if you need more lime.
If you have a problem not addressed here, call your Agricultural Extension Agent. Every county has one listed in the blue pages or call Johnny Sides, he will be glad to advise you.
Bermuda grass lawns and athletic fields require different measures. They like to be mowed extra low and fertilized during hot weather. They can only be seeded or plugged during hot weather. Other than that, they require all the treatments above, but with different timing. Call us for specifics if needed.
Topdressing Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede or St. Augustine lawns with Sides Black Wonder 5000 composted manure is highly beneficial. Do this once during the growing season.