Cool Season Lawn Care Management
Cool-season grasses thrive in the proper conditions. Read on to learn techniques for maintaining and caring for your lawn.
Cool-Season Lawn Care Management
Think caring for your cool-season lawn only matters during the summer months? Think again. How you treat your grass is as important in March and September as it is in July, and if you tend to your lawn throughout the year, you’ll enjoy a lush green yard season after season.
Cool-season grasses include Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fine and tall fescues. When gearing up for the summer season, a little bit of TLC goes a long way when it comes to these hardy specimens. When March rolls around and the weather finally breaks, it’s time to remove old growth and over-seed any patches or thin spots. This is also a good time to start a weed prevention program to eliminate the opportunity for seeds to take root. It’s also recommended that you test your soil every three years or so.
In April, you should aerate your soil, making it easier for water and nutrients to penetrate the root system. Once the soil is loose, feed your grass using a slow-release fertilizer. Crabgrass preventers should also be used by the middle of the month. Start mowing your lawn in April on an as-needed basis, and be sure to remove any diseased clippings. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for problems like mildew and leaf spot disease.
Refrain from applying nitrogen fertilizer after May 1 because it can cause foliar diseases to develop, which can severely damage your lawn. During this month, you want to focus on summer weed prevention, so you should apply post-emergence broadleaf herbicides. If you’re experiencing problems with crabgrass, goosegrass or nutsedge, the University of Missouri Extension recommends starting postemergence control by month’s end. Another thing to look for is sod webworm. Wait about 10 days after the season’s first big moth flight, and apply insecticides to your lawn.
Start watering your lawn in June, but be careful not to overdo it. Too much water can cause fungus to grow, so water to a depth of about 6 inches. Water as needed — you don’t want to cause drought stress, which can also weaken your grass and make it easier to become diseased. If you find your lawn grows at a fast rate during this time of year, you’ll need to mow frequently, at a height of about 2.5 to 3 inches. If the grass is thin, increase the height of your blade by a half-inch to an inch. Don’t worry about raking up the clippings unless they are excessive. Watch for sodworm damage
When the temperature spikes in the early summer, mow your grass either early in the morning or late in the evening. Irrigate your lawn with about an inch of water per week, two or three times a week. Do not irrigate daily. When the weather is hot and humid, it’s best to water your lawn between 6 and 10 a.m. This will help prevent diseases from developing. White grubs may appear in July, so if you see between five and 10 in 1 square foot, use a grub insecticide toward month’s end.
Start preparing your lawn for autumn in August; this is the time to arrange the seedbed and begin sodding. This is a good time to buy grass seed and fertilizer, and it’s a good idea to test your soil to determine its fertility. In the meantime, keep up with watering and pest control. In the last week of August, the University of Missouri Extension recommends soaking dormant lawns to encourage autumn growth.
As the summer starts to wind down, your lawn care continues to heat up, because September is the most important time to fertilize cool-season grasses, according to the University of Missouri Extension. If parts of the soil are compacted, aerate your lawn, and then apply the fertilizer for optimum absorption. This is also the time of year to destroy any weed areas and to over-seed thinned out areas. In late September, apply broadleaf herbicides to prevent weeds from taking root.
Continue mowing in November and October until the grass stops growing. Use a soluble nitrogen fertilizer to help thicken the turf for the winter months. Rake the leaves and remove them so they don’t smother your lawn, and make sure your soil is moist as it prepares for winter.
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